Protecting Oregon’s Drinking Water Sources

Check out our new water protection guide!

In honor of World Water Day, we’re releasing our newest guide: Protecting Oregon’s Drinking Water Sources: A Guide for Using Land Conservation to Secure Clean and Reliable Drinking Water!  This guide is a resource for communities, water providers, land trusts, and other conservation partners to use voluntary land conservation to secure community drinking water sources. 

We ask a lot of our waters—to support people, thriving communities, fish and wildlife, and the environment.

Despite this critical role, we often take the health of our waters and the natural systems that support them for granted. As a result, many Oregon waters are degraded and depleted, and we are facing challenges around growing water insecurity. 

Among the water challenges faced by Oregon is ensuring all residents have access to clean water for drinking and sanitation. While clean water may seem as easy as turning on the tap for some, not all Oregon communities have this security. The challenges around ensuring access to clean water are only expected to become more complex as our built infrastructure ages, Oregon’s population grows, we continue to degrade our natural systems, and climate change stresses water supplies.

A critical piece of addressing these challenges is ensuring we have a foundation of clean water sources and healthy watersheds. When we protect our water sources, communities have cleaner and more affordable water and are more resilient to stressors like fire, drought, and floods. And, when we ensure clean water for communities, we also ensure clean water for fish and wildlife. 

One of the most effective ways to ensure we have clean source waters is to protect the health of our natural lands.

Simply, where we have healthy natural lands, we have cleaner water. Natural lands—forests, wetlands, estuaries, grasslands—are the first filter for our water. 

Land conservation is a key tool for protecting the natural lands that support our water sources. In Oregon, over 50% of the land area surrounding community drinking water sources is privately owned. Without protection, these lands are at risk of conversion or degradation that can impact water quality.

We hope this resource will accelerate the protection of drinking water sources by increasing understanding around the need and opportunity for source water protection and innovative partnerships!

Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith

Water Project Manager at COLT

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