Water Conservation and Farms

During the 2017 Vision work sessions, water was identified by the community as a priority for strategic planning.  In May and June, during our 2018 road show series, water conservation ideas or other strategies related to water resources will be a topic of discussion.

The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) manages water supply needs and rights, and works to restore and protect streams and watersheds to ensure long term water availability.  In 2015, they produced a flyer with tips for summer conservation of water on farms and ranches: Saving_Water_Farms_Ranches

The flyer also has some additional resources for farmers and ranchers concerned about water and/or irrigation.

In 2017, OWRD adopted an Integrated Water Resources Strategy to address challenges throughout Oregon related to water.

The plan has useful data, including some forecasts for future water use:



These two graphics show that while Wasco County has a low predicted growth in municipal or industrial water over the next 30+ years, we will see an increase in agricultural water demand.  This is, in part, because of a predicted 8.5 degree fahrenheit temperature increase by mid-century. (For detailed data on how they forecasted water demand, please see this document).

The implications for Wasco County 2040 are to think about ways land use planning and regulations for development can help support OWRD’s strategies.  The report has some specific recommendations for land use plans that we will be considering for Wasco County 2040:

Table 10:   Land Use Planning
Agency Program


Comprehensive Land Use Planning – Develop and implement land use plans to comply with statewide planning goals and other laws.  Comprehensive plans include policies on sewer and water systems, transportation systems, recreational facilities, natural resources and water quality management programs.


Public Facility Plans (Goal 11) – Describes the water, sewer and transportation facilities which are to support the land uses designated in the comprehensive plan. http://www.oregon.gov/lcd/docs/goals/goal11.pdf
Land Use Compatibility Statement – State actions must align with local comprehensive plans.  Local governments complete a land use compatibility statement to approve state actions.
Ordinance – Specify the standards to be used in developing sewers, streets, water lines, and other infrastructure, and establishes procedures for approving development actions.  Also develops floodplain ordinances.
Floodplains – Regulates development in floodplains.  Issues floodplain development permits.  Requires elevation certificates construction within the 100 year floodplain.
Coastal Shorelands Planning Area – Local governments are required to identify the location of areas subject to geologic and hydrologic hazards, and identify evacuation routes.


We look forward to hearing community feedback on how to address water resource challenges.  You can participate now by submitting comments or taking our survey.

Central Gorge Producer Survey (OSU)

Are you a farmer in Wasco County?

OSU, WSU and Gorge Grown Food Network are currently surveying farmers in the central Gorge.

Here is the information:

Dear Farmers and Ranchers,

Gorge Grown Food Network, OSU Extension and WSU Extension are engaged in planning their programs, workshops and projects for the next few years and have teamed up to create a survey that will inform this work. Your feedback will go a long ways to inform the educational offerings and projects that we undertake in the coming years. We want to make sure we are truly providing the services you need. We recognize your time during the growing season is valuable and scarce, and have tried to streamline our questions to take approximately 10 minutes.

We really appreciate your efforts.

Click here to complete the survey: http://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3l4Kk1BowLNJZIN


Hannah, Rachel and Liz


Oregon Tourism and Wasco County

Planning staff participated in a series of events sponsored by Travel Oregon in 2016. This series was focused on rural tourism, and ways to improve outreach, coordination, marketing, and more in the Gorge and Eastern Oregon.

Wasco is split into two regions according to Travel Oregon.  The majority of the county is in the Central Oregon region, which connects us to counties to the South, including Deschutes County.  The Columbia River Gorge portion of our county is incorporated into the Mt. Hood/Gorge territory.  Tourism is identified as a strength and a potential opportunity for the region according to Mid Columbia Economic Development District’s recent Economic Development Strategy document.  This encapsulates not only recreational activities in our natural areas, but also visits to wineries, cideries, u-Pick farms, and historical sites.

Travel Oregon produced a series of documents that are available on their website here: http://industry.traveloregon.com/2016-industry-engagement-insights/.

We heard from the workshop series a lot of interest from residents and businesses in more opportunities for recreational and agricultural tourism in Wasco County.    As an existing strength and opportunity for future growth and development, the Planning Department wants to make sure regulations allow for uses and activities that support tourism.

You may see the term agri or agro tourism pop up quite a bit during the Wasco County 2040, and that is in response to the interest expressed by community members. Currently, Wasco County’s land use regulations allow for limited agro-tourism activities. One of the things staff is focused on understanding is how to enable agro-tourism activities and uses without creating conflict from other uses including large-scale commercial agriculture.

Similarly, new recreation demands have indicated to partners a need to develop new facilities or enhance existing parks, trails, and campgrounds.  We have heard from many residents that some activities, including biking and hiking, can have unintended impacts to emergency services, farming, and residences.  In exploring how to continue to support recreation, Planning staff wants to hear about existing conflicts and impacts, and concerns for future impacts to help us better plan.

We encourage you to share your stories and thoughts.  You can connect by attending upcoming events, take our survey, or send us an email.



Wasco County Farm Subsidies

One of the things we wanted to understand, in preparing for the Comprehensive Plan update, was how some farmland in Wasco County is currently being used and how that may change in the future.

A critical program for conserving land and habitat is through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  In 2016, land enrolled in the CRP program accounted for 4% of EFU lands.

To help further tell the story about Farm Subsidy programs and their impact on Wasco County, staff developed the following infographic. WascoCountyAgSubsidies (4)