Oregon Source Water Protection Fund Supports Local Projects

The State of Oregon Drinking Water Source Protection Fund has provided funding for a Regional grant project in Lane and Benton Counties.  While the Springfield Utility Board (in Lane County) and Benton County (the primary stewards of the project) had slightly different reasons for pursuing this project, they shared similar end goals to protect multiple drinking water sources.

This vegetation map from the Portland State University shows where Lane and Benton Counties are located within the Willamette River Basin in Oregon.

Lane and Benton Counties are located in the southern portion of the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Lane County has an approximate population of 321,000 persons who are served in part by 252 water systems.  Benton County is somewhat smaller, having a population of 82,600 persons who are served in part by 48 water systems.  The primary surface water supplies are the Willamette River and its tributaries.  The eastern margin of the Willamette Valley is defined by the Cascade Mountains and the western margin is defined by the Coast Range Mountains.  Most groundwater supplies come from the Willamette aquifer system, though some smaller amounts of groundwater are obtained from bedrock materials within the Cascades and Coast Range (in both Lane and Benton Counties).

Lane County:  For this part of the project, the Springfield Utility Board partnered with the City of Veneta in Lane County to bring the counties and public water systems together to work collaboratively on protecting the drinking water supply.  Recognizing that not all communities would be able to implement protections through land use policy, the project provided multiple options for addressing source water protection at the county level.

Benton County:  For this part of the project, the City of Adair Village partnered with the Benton County Planning Department to address the county’s interest in supporting long term protection of drinking water resources with a focus on public groundwater systems by:

  • Determining the impact of current and possible future land uses on water quality;
  • Learning directly from the groundwater system board/operators on current and future issues and concerns related to source water quality; and
  • Developing a planning review process to prioritize notification of potential water quality impacts to groundwater systems, prior to the completion of a proposed building or land use action.

Grant Project Products:  Many interested parties (e.g., county staff, watershed councils, public water systems, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality staff) provided input into each phase of this regional project, resulting in a collaborative effort with broadly-supported final products.  The project outcomes for both counties included the development of the following list of products.  The counties then rolled out these products by sending letters of introduction to all of the public waters systems.

  • TapSource, a new interactive web site with source water protection resources and tools for obtaining site-specific information in Lane County and Benton County (http://www.lcog.org/tapsource-lane/index.cfm; http://www.lcog.org/tapsource-benton/index.cfm);
  • County-wide overlay maps of drinking water source areas;
  • Public water system notification tool – Lane and Benton Counties now have GIS-based systems for sending notice to public water systems regarding land use proposals within their source water areas.  This system will enable public water systems to become more informed of and active in land use changes within their source areas; and
  • Public Water System Drinking Water Protection Action Kit – this tool is available on CD and on the TapSource web site.  It provides technical assistance and guidance for incorporating drinking water protection into land use.

This collaborative project highlights the need for communities to identify and involve many parties and jurisdictions in source water protection planning and implementation activities.  The conveners highlighted the importance of ensuring that partners know how to participate, and developing real tools and mechanisms for their participation.

Most of the products (and particularly the interactive website) from this grant could be adapted for other parts of the country.  State drinking water programs will want to consider whether this type of project and the resulting products and tools might be used as examples for particular communities in their states that are seeking funding and assistance on how to protect drinking water sources.

For more information about Lane County, visit their website here:  http://bluebook.state.or.us/local/counties/counties20.htm.

For more information about Benton County, visit their website here:  http://bluebook.state.or.us/local/counties/counties02.htm.

For more information about the Oregon Source Water Protection Fund, view this Oregon Drinking Water Source Protection Fund document.  If you have questions, please contact Tom Pattee of the Oregon Health Authority at tom.pattee@state.or.us or 541-726-2587.


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