For the second time in more than a year, the House has passed a bill that would make more water available for the city of Prineville.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden’s bill had to be reintroduced after a version in the Senate died in committee. This time around, supporters are optimistic the bill won’t suffer the same fate.
That’s because the place where the bill died, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has a new chairman — Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden. In fact, Wyden co-sponsored that bill, which was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley.
Walden’s House bill makes about 6 percent of the unallocated water behind Bowman Dam available for the city of Prineville.
Speaking on the House floor this week, Walden said the extra water would “allow the city to not only meet its residential needs, which it cannot do today, but also allow it to engage in more economic development which it desperately needs to do.”
Wyden and Merkley’s legislation went further, authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to release additional water for fisheries. The senators say they plan to introduce an updated version of that bill soon.