Awards announced for 2017 Drinking Water Providers Partnership funding

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership has announced its grant award recommendations for 2017. In its second year, the Partnership is supporting a mix of twelve planning and implementation activities that will benefit 28 different water systems and 877,000 people who rely on these streams and rivers for their drinking water.

Aging infrastructure, increasing environmental challenges, and a growing population are all putting our region’s drinking water at risk. The Drinking Water Providers Partnership (The Partnership) is a public-private coalition that funds local efforts to ensure healthy rivers can continue to provide clean and affordable drinking water to communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

Over half of all Oregonians and 1/3 of Washingtonians get their drinking water from rivers and streams.

“More than $15 billion is needed in drinking water infrastructure repairs and improvements in the Pacific Northwest over the next 20 years as we make room for another two to four million residents – all of whom will need clean water,” said Cathy Kellon, Working Waters Program Director for Geos Institute. “The Partnership’s work is a critical starting point; more infrastructure investments are necessary to meet future water needs.”

Water managers are keenly aware that there is already a “new normal” to contend with – longer fire seasons, less reliable winter snowpack, lower summer stream flows, and more frequent, intense rain events are changing the face of water management. It’s well understood that upstream watershed health is the first line of defense for safe drinking water and it’s cheaper and easier to keep water clean before it enters any pipes. This is where the Partnership focuses its efforts. tree in riverThe Partnerships funds on-the- ground conservation projects that bring together municipal drinking water providers, private and public landowners, and restoration practitioners to enhance river and forest habitat. Tactics are all intended to improve water quality, from re-creating log jams in the stream channel to slow water and create pools for fish to rest, to planting river banks with native vegetation, and improving forest roads to reduce erosion to streams.

“By working with nature and restoring our rivers and headwaters, we reduce water utility costs and gain greater peace of mind. We also improve fish and wildlife habitat and the quality of life that we cherish in the Pacific Northwest. We get a lot more for our money when we invest in nature.” -Cathy Kellon.

This year, The Partnership offered funding to a dozen local watershed restoration efforts. The average individual grant amount is $42,000.

Seven organizations and government agencies comprise the Partnership, which is coordinated by the nonprofit Geos Institute. Other members are: U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and WildEarth Guardians. Watershed restoration projects build community and ratepayer trust in our drinking water systems and generate additional benefits like improved fish runs and flood control. 

Below are the projects recommended for funding this year and more information about the Drinking Water Providers Partnership is available online.

2017 project awards announcement

Bear Creek Habitat Enhancement Phase 1
Location: Lane County, OR
Description: The Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with the South Coast Water District to replace an impassable culvert with a clear span bridge, place large wood in the stream channel, and enhance sensitive riparian areas by fencing out livestock and planting native trees and shrubs.

Dunn Creek Restoration Project
Location: Josephine County, OR
Description: The Illinois Valley Watershed Council, in collaboration with the USFS Wild Rivers District, will place eight large wood complexes in the Dunn Creek stream channel and re-establish riparian native plants. These activities will result in increased overwintering salmonid habitat the upper East Fork Illinois River and improved water quality for the Cave Junction Public Water System.

Floras Creek Drinking Water Protection Project
Location: Curry County, OR
Description: The Curry Soil and Water Conservation District and South Coast Watershed Council are improving in-stream, riparian, and uplands habitat in the town of Langlois’ source watershed. They are placing large wood structures in 2 miles of Floras Creek, treating invasive species on 44 acres along the creek, and treating priority segments of forest road to reduce erosion.

Icicle Creek Education and Outreach
Location: Chelan County, WA
Description: The Cascadia Conservation District is partnering with the City of Leavenworth and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest to develop education and outreach materials that promote stewardship and resource protection among visitors. Leavenworth is one of the most popular tourist towns in Washington and Icicle Creek, its source watershed, also receives tens of thousands of visitors each year. Signs, handouts, and presentations will educate users about ways to minimize their impact to plant, wildlife, and water resources in the area.

Little Butte Watershed Riparian Erosion Mapping
Location: Jackson County, OR
Description: The Freshwater Trust, in collaboration with several partner groups, will conduct a geospatial assessment of riparian areas along Little Butte Creek in order to identify the most cost-effective areas to target outreach and funding for agricultural Best Management Practices that will reduce erosion and nutrient runoff to the creek, benefitting the Medford Water Commission and other downstream utilities.

Lower South Fork McKenzie River Floodplain Project
Location: Lane County, OR
Description: The Willamette National Forest, with the Eugene Water & Electric Board and several other groups, is coordinating planning and preparation for the Lower South Fork McKenzie River Floodplain project, a large scale, multi-year endeavor. In 2017, the project partners will finalize engineering designs and collect and grow out a native plant collection to be used for replanting the restoration site after earthwork is completed in the coming years.

Milk Creek Stream and Riparian Restoration Project
Location: Clackamas County, OR
Description: The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District will stabilize and restore 275 feet of eroding stream bank along Milk Creek, including replanting the area with native trees and shrubs, so as to improve infiltration, reduce erosion, and provider cooler and cleaner water for Canby Utility.

North Fork Clackamas River Restoration Project
Location, Clackamas County, OR
Description: The Clackamas River Basin Council and Bureau of Land Management are working with the Clackamas River Water Providers - a coalition of seven drinking water providers - to improve habitat in the North Fork Clackamas River. This project will restore historic side channels, place large wood in the stream channel, control nonnative vegetation, and plant native trees and shrubs.

North Santiam Basin Resiliency Action Plan
Location: Marion and Linn County, OR
Description: The North Santiam Watershed Council and Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation and Development, on behalf of the Partners for the North Santiam, are leading the development of a climate informed Resiliency Action Plan. Having a coordinated and integrated strategic implementation plan for improving ecological, economic, and community health in the North Santiam will help every town and group to be more effective and benefit drinking water supplies for the cites of Salem, Albany, Idanha, Detroit, Breitenbush, Gates, Lyons, Mehama, Stayton, and Jefferson.

Poison Canyon Restoration Project
Location: Chelan County, WA
Description: Chelan County Natural Resource Department is working with the Washington Department of Natural Resources to improve fish habitat, instream flows, and water quality in the City of Cashmere’s source watershed. A series of log jams, or Beaver Dam Analogs, will be installed in the Poison Canyon creek channel to slow runoff, reduce erosion, and allow the stream to reconnect with its floodplain.

Schooner Creek Sediment Reduction Project
Location: Lincoln County, OR
Description: The Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council is partnering with Lincoln City to assess road conditions in the Schooner Creek watershed and prioritize road segments for rehabilitation. By targeting those road sections that are most unstable and prone to failure, local partners will be able to focus investments on those projects that will best improve infiltration and reduce sediment delivery to the creek.

Steamboat Creek Roads: Sediment Analysis and Inventory Using GRAIP
Location: Douglas County, OR
Description: The Umpqua National Forest is systematically identifying roads that are at an elevated risk of mass wasting or are actively contributing sediment to streams in Steamboat Creek. By pinpointing the highest risk areas, the partners can prioritize their road maintenance, stream crossing, and decommissioning activities to have the greatest benefit to fish habitat and water quality for Glide Water Association and other downstream towns.

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