The agency in charge of managing Oregon’s water resources is being stretched to the limit.
That’s one of the findings in a new audit from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.
The Oregon Water Resources Department oversees the state’s water rights and works to ensure the state has an adequate supply of water for the future.
The new audit says the agency has been focusing too much time on managing existing water rights instead of working to sustain Oregon’s water resources for the long run.
Auditors say that by 2050, Oregon could need an additional 424 billion gallons of water to meet agricultural, municipal and industrial needs.
The agency says it by and large agrees with the audit. But in a written response, director Thomas Byler notes that the department is working within the constraints of another limited resource: funding.
However, Byler writes that the department recognizes that “the Governor and Legislature must make hard choices about the prioritization and allocation of funding” as they craft the 2017-19 budget.