Legislative Success! OWRC Secures $50 Million+ for District Projects

By Ken Yates | June 28, 2023

Salem, Oregon–During the 2023 Legislative Session that concluded on June 25, OWRC successfully lobbied for state grant funding to match federally funded irrigation modernization projects.  $50 million in lottery-backed bonds will be available to irrigation districts and similar entities with eligible projects (as described in HB 5030). This funding will help districts around the state move forward with a variety of beneficial modernization projects and leverage an estimated $160 million in federal funding during the next biennium starting July 1, 2023 and ending June 30, 2025.  These and other water investments were part of a bi-partisan Drought Relief and Water Security Package, shepherded by Representative Ken Helm (D-Beaverton) and Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane).  Helm and Owens were Chair and Vice-Chair respectively on the House Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water Committee where most water related legislation originated. OWRC is grateful for their leadership on behalf of irrigated agriculture.

These water investments are possible because of the innovative projects that you–our members–are proposing and implementing around the state.  We are deeply appreciative of testimony and outreach from our member districts and technical assistance provided by our allies at Farmers Conservation Alliance.  The funds authorized under HB 5030 will be administered by the Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD) during the 2023-2025 biennium.  Additional details will be provided to OWRC members as we learn more.  The existing WRD Water Projects Grants and Loans program also received funding for the 2023-25 biennium and will be available to districts that do not have eligible federal projects.

In addition to targeted match funds for irrigation modernization projects, the Oregon Legislature made several other significant investments in water, including: place-based water planning, agricultural water technical assistance, aquifer recharge/recovery,  water reuse and recycling, well replacement and repair, juniper removal, and more.  These and other components of the Bi-Partisan Drought Relief and Water Scarcity Package are detailed in HB 2010 and SB 5506.

To learn more about these and other developments from the 2023 Legislative Session, save the date to attend OWRC’s Water Law Seminar, October 5 in Salem. Check our events page for registration and event updates.


OWRC is a 501(c)6 membership association of irrigation districts and similar entities advocating for irrigated agriculture.
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