Source Water Workshops around Oregon and Washington
Towns and cities throughout Oregon and Washington provide safe, reliable supplies of clean drinking water to their residents, day in and day out. However, small and rural towns provide this amazing service with far fewer resources.
Protecting drinking water at its source is the first line of defense in a multi-barrier approach to ensuring safe drinking water. But small drinking water providers do not have staff dedicated solely to source water protection. Operators are busy treating water to regulatory standards and keeping it flowing in its pipes. There’s no doubt that their job would be a lot easier if they had some help to protect and enhance water quality before it enters their treatment plant.
Fortunately, in the Pacific Northwest we have many groups that can provide the critical services needed to plan and implement source water protection activities.
The problem is that the utilities and the conservationists don’t often know about each other, even if they live or work in the same area. In response to this need, over the past several years we have arranged individual meetings to bring a utility together with conservationists working in their source watershed. But there are far more towns than we have time to visit one-on-one.
So this spring we launched a year-long series of Source Water Workshops to scale up our outreach. Together, with the following partners - the Environmental Finance Center, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Health, WildEarth Guardians, and the Bureau of Land Management – we are hosting nine workshops in 2018 throughout Oregon and Washington.
Each one-day workshop is a mix of short presentations with question and answer time, facilitated discussions, and open dialogue, along with a site visit to either a local drinking water treatment facility or restoration project; designed to:
- Build relationships between water providers, restoration practitioners, and land managers.
- Raise awareness among conservation practitioners of drinking water quality and supply concerns.
- Raise awareness among individual water systems of restoration and protection actions that can improve water quality/supply.
- Identify potential restoration projects or conservation actions, along with funding and partners, which may address shared goals.
These Source Water Workshops are a singular opportunity for participants to share and learn together about the ways that drinking water quality relates to fish habitat restoration and nonpoint source pollution control, along with associated funding. We expect the workshops will pave the way to new alliances and getting more conservation and restoration projects accomplished.
At Working Waters, we are building connections between downstream towns, upstream land owners, and restoration practitioners in order to help to heal damaged rivers and prepare communities for a changing climate in the Pacific Northwest.