U.S. Water News Online
McMINNVILLE, Ore. — In one of the fast-growing parts of Oregon, a new analysis shows most Yamhill County towns could face water shortages starting as soon as 2010.
Consultants are finishing the study, due for release in April, according to Laura Tschabold, the county's deputy administrative services director.
An executive summary made available recently focuses on water and growth in the county and its 10 cities in the middle of Oregon's pinot noir wine country. It comes as water rights in the basin's major rivers and tributaries are fully appropriated during low-flow periods and groundwater capacity is steadily diminishing.
The study cost $67,000 and represents the first major step by the Yamhill County Water Task Force to get a handle on local water woes, a concern in land-use hearings, as neighbors opposing various projects in land-use hearings talk about wells going dry.
County commissioners agreed to apply for a grant to cover the cost of a second phase — a more detailed look at solutions, the McMinnville News-Register reported. Tschabold estimated the cost at $47,000.
McMinnville Water & Light has been drawing water from gravity-fed reservoirs in the Coast Range and has a large reserve. The report said despite political opposition to sharing, MWL may find itself under increasing pressure to let other cities use its spigot in emergencies.
It's not exactly news to some cities that water isn't keeping pace with growth. Dayton residents, for example, have frequently faced restrictions on water use during dry spells. So have Lafayette, Amity, Carlton and Newberg.
One factor cities will need to consider is whether to restrict the expansion of their urban growth boundaries. The consultants estimate growth rates could be reduced by half if cities were willing to rein in their boundaries.
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