Water

One focus for the Upper Willamette SWCD is to address water quality and protection as it relates to humans, fish, habitats, and agriculture.

Drinking Water

Maintaining quality drinking water is one of the most important and crucial parts of our work. The Upper Willamette SWCD partners with the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to provide technical assistance to landowners residing within the state’s designated Groundwater Management Area to address groundwater quality affected by high levels of nitrates.

Pure Water Partners: The UWSWCD is part of the Pure Water Partners (PWP) program, which encourages stewardship of healthy riparian forest areas and provides incentives to landowners to protect or restore riparian forests as key systems for maintaining clean water, reducing erosion, providing shade along the adjacent waterbody, providing key habitat for fish and wildlife, and maintaining a healthy resilient watershed. PWP also recommends the use of native plants as a way of reducing chemical and water use, as well as maintenance, while protecting water quality and increasing native wildlife habitat. In light of the Holiday Farm Fire, PWP is encouraging landowners to incorporate Firewise practices on their properties, which are aimed at creating defensible space and reducing invasive vegetation and ladder fuels that can threaten homes and structures. Upper Willamette SWCD serves as the lead technical service provider and project manager. Program partners include the Eugene Water & Electric Board, Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development, McKenzie Watershed Council, McKenzie River Trust, Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission, University of Oregon, and the US Forest Service. Click here to learn more about Pure Water Partners. For more information, email [email protected] or call 541-685-7438.

Riparian Restoration

Do you have property adjacent to a river or stream? The Upper Willamette SWCD can help you restore or enhance the riparian habitat to create a fully functioning riparian. A healthy riparian area is essential for water quality and healthy fish. District staff will work with you to develop a plan that includes removal of invasive species and installation of native trees and shrubs that provide shade for cooling water temperatures and habitat for insects for fish nutrition. The District staff will also work to find funding opportunities for projects to reduce the financial costs associated with your project. Contact us for more information.

Agricultural Water Quality

Strategic Implementation Areas (SIAs): The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is applying the Strategic Implementation approach, where selected areas all around the state will receive outreach and education to address priority water quality concerns. Following an ODA-led Compliance Evaluation, ODA and its partners will work with agricultural landowners to concentrate technical and financial help to change agricultural activities that may be reducing water quality. Following outreach and assistance, ODA may enforce regulations where problems persist.

Strategic Implementation Areas are chosen by ODA after discussions with partners and a review of local information and water quality data when available.
ODA and program partners believe that strategic, focused, and systematic delivery of outreach and technical assistance will lead to greater Program effectiveness and allow ODA and SWCDs to make better use of limited resources.

The Camp Creek Strategic Implementation Area: The Camp Creek Sub-Watershed of the McKenzie River is an area identified by the Oregon Department of Agriculture as having water quality concerns related to both present and historic agricultural practices. The UWSWCD is the project lead tasked with implementing the SIA process in Camp Creek for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The SIA initiative concentrates technical and financial resources into the Camp Creek Sub-watershed to address agricultural water quality concerns and includes three key components:

  • Compliance with Oregon’s agricultural water quality regulations
  • Monitoring to track water quality and landscape conditions
  • Voluntary, incentive-based conservation

Bear Creek Strategic Implementation Area: The Bear Creek SIA focal area is located northeast of Eugene, Oregon in the Bear Creek Watershed. The Bear Creek SIA Boundary encompasses Bear Creek, Owen’s Creek, Turnbow Creek, Nails Creek, Jones Creek, Squaw Creek, McLaden Creek, and the Lower Long Tom River.

Past and current land management practices within this SIA boundary area have contributed to water quality concerns. The Bear Creek-Long Tom River subwatershed has the highest number of agricultural stream miles and the second highest number of stream miles with a shade gap between 51 percent and 100 percent, making this sub-watershed an excellent choice for the Upper Willamette SWCD’s SIA.

Fish and Habitat

The Upper Willamette SWCD staff works with near-stream landowners to enhance riparian areas by installing native trees to provide stream shade, and native shrubs to provide habitat for insects to enhance the aquatic food supply. The Upper Willamette SWCD staff also conducts in-stream fish habitat projects, such as large wood and boulder placement, as well as culvert replacement to increase stream passage.

Agriculture

In conjunction with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Upper Willamette SWCD office serves as the Local Management Agency for the Agricultural Water Quality Area Management Plan. These plans are developed by agricultural representatives to demonstrate how agriculture is addressing water quality concerns that arise from agricultural activities conducted on their land. These plans are the agricultural sector’s response to the Clean Water Act. Upper Willamette SWCD staff provides landowners technical assistance and administrative support to the two local advisory committees designated in the Upper Willamette SWCD’s boundaries.


Water Health Project Examples:

  • Manure Management
    This project was implemented to address property owner concerns associated with run-off from her livestock operation. A large pond and wetlands surrounded the site. Prior to this project, manure produced by the livestock was stockpiled uncovered within 100 feet of the wetland area and trucked offsite twice a year. The Upper Willamette SWCD worked with the property owner to apply for a small grant and create a plan that would improve water quality and cost-effectively manage the manure. The property owner no longer has to worry about run-off from her property contaminating the adjacent wetlands.
  • Livestock Exclusion
    A small-scale rancher was concerned about the effect his livestock were having on a spring fed creek that ran through his property and drained into Row River. Working with the Upper Willamette SWCD, he was able to get a small grant to fund exclusion fencing for the creek and springs, remove invasive species in the riparian area, plant native vegetation, cross fence, and set up heavy use protection areas and watering stations. Rotation of paddock use has reduced the footprint of this livestock operation, increased wildlife habitat utilization, and addressed water quality concerns.
  • Stream Restoration
    A landowner contacted us about a lack of fish in a stream that ran through his property. Upper Willamette SWCD conducted a site visit and noted a lack of large woody debris in the stream as well as a lack of shade to keep the stream cool enough for fish. A small grant funded the removal of invasive species next to the stream and the planting of a diverse mix of native plants and trees. Logs were placed in strategic areas to slow the flow of water and reconnect the stream to its original floodplain. This reduced flooding, mud sediment, and increased the stream gravel bed formation that is essential to attract spawning salmon.

If you are interested in more information about implementing projects, project funding opportunities, or addressing resource concerns for your property, please contact the Upper Willamette SWCD staff.