Tribes and Oregon government agencies strive to collaborate more on water policies
The nine federally-recognized tribes in Oregon and state agencies that regulate water are working towards a mutual partnership. This follows the release of a nearly 300-page report detailing tribes’ concerns and issues with water quality and access.
The Tribal Water Task Force’s report is the culmination of several government-to-government meetings enacted by then-Governor Kate Brown in 2022.
“The tribes have expressed frustration that when they have a matter of urgency that they want to talk to the state about, they’re not sure which agency they need to go to,” said Doug Woodcock, acting director for the Oregon Water Resources Department.
“So as a matter of efficiency, this education between us provides that avenue of, “Who is it that they ought to be talking to, around different issues?”
Examples include safe water habitat for salmon, a regular staple for many tribes, and clean and consistent water for communities. One tribe - the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs - has contended with water shutoffs and boil notices for years.
Woodcock told KLCC that later this year, the Tribal Water Task Force will explore forming a working group between tribes and agencies to improve communication.