Well, well, well: Coastal Oregon needs help with its wells too.

Despite our appearance as a wet and ever-watery place, wells are a BIG deal for Oregonians on the coast. Our hydrology is a mix of good, bad and downright ugly from the perspective of well owners.  Coastal Oregon well-owners typically can expect to have problems with impurities, output and a sense of neglect when compared with the weight of water users to the east of the Coast Range.  Here’s a chance to learn more about wells across the state.  More importantly, I would like to especially encourage folks from the coast to attend and to speak up for our unique situation (as opposed to those in the Willamette Valley). While we’re all in the water cycle together, well owners in different parts of the state need to learn more and compare notes when they can.

Oregon Sea Grant Extension, the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds, and the Oregon Water Resources Department are convening a one-day symposium designed to provide information on wells with a focus on domestic wells and ground water challenged areas. For more information (agenda, speaker bios, venue location, etc.) and to register visit http://oregonstate.edu/conferences/wells2008/

Location: Northwest Viticulture Center, outside of Salem, OR

When: December 11, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Registration: $40 until Dec. 5, $50 after Dec. 5 (Includes refreshments, lunch, etc.)

Keynoting the conference will be Kevin McCray, Executive Director of the National Ground Water Association. Melinda Kassen, Trout Unlimited, will discuss ground water use in western states. Karl Wozniak, OWRD ground water Hydrologist, and Jerry Schmidt of the Oregon Ground Water Association will speak more specifically about ground water in Oregon. Other speakers include Mike Gamroth (OSU Extension); Audrey Eldridge (Department of Environmental Quality); Adam Stebbins (Benton County) and Dave Livesay (GSI Water Solutions, Inc.); Turner Odell (Oregon Consensus Program at PSU); Barbara Rich (Deschutes County Environmental Health). Water Resources Graduate Program student Abby Brown (Oregon Sea Grant-Oregon Water Resources Department Fellow) will present on the Neighborhood Ground Water Network she is coordinating in the Eola Hills. The symposium will conclude with a facilitation to determine needs.

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Glaciers melting on Mt. Hood, OSU researchers record important outcomes

hood_blog.jpgThe Oregonian has one of my colleagues from the Department of Geosciences on its front page today. Dr. Anne Nolin has studied patterns of melting and glaciation (or build up) on Mt. Hood for the last few years using remotely sensed information (satellite-gathered data primarily). While much discussion of global climate change patterns is–obviously–global, more local-scale impacts are just as important. For the average Oregonian, these are “where the rubber meets the road.” For Oregonians and other Pacific Northwesterners, it is vital to understand the direct impacts on our hydrologic (or water) cycle, especially where the water serves farms, households, cities and industries that keep the state moving. Loss of snowpack in the mountains of Oregon means less water in the summer and fall dry periods. But more important than snowpack are the glaciers that serve as massive reserves of water for some of the state’s surface waters. Dr. Nolin’s work points out just how sensitive these local glaciers are to changes in temperature.

By connecting the global with the local, Dr. Nolin’s work is scientifically significant and demonstrates an important bellwether for how Oregonians might need to prepare for changes in our climate. You can read the article here.

Safe drinking water: the global & the local

While this blog focuses on the specifics of the North Coast and its local water resources, every once in a while I find it good to put things into global perspective. A resource of this very nature just crossed my desk and merits some attention here. tap.jpg

While most of us turn on our taps and assume we have fresh, clean, sanitary water flowing forth, it is important to remember that much of the world does not share this benefit of modern water resources management. It is also a good reminder to keep our water here at home clean and support the infrastructure that captures, treats and transports it to our taps for pennies. Not so long ago–as some folks on the North Coast can remember–this was not something you could take for granted. As many with private water systems served by wells and springs, drinking water protection should still remain a constant concern.

At the same time that a few of us struggle to keep our water clean in the U.S., diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation are among the world’s most serious public health threats, accounting for nearly 80 percent of illnesses in developing countries and killing millions of people – mostly children – each year. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Global Health and Education Foundation are joining more than 125 science, engineering, and medical academies around the world to take action on the global drinking water crisis by launching a Web site titled, “Safe Drinking Water Is Essential.”

Check it out.

Water Conservation for the North Coast??

The answer to that semi-rhetorical question is: YES! While much of the nation is in severe water crisis at this point (USA Today June 7, 2007), much of the coastal Pacific Northwest seems immune to the vagaries of drought. We should not let our good hydrologic fortune lull us into a sense of complacency, however. Drought is an important topic for the North Coast. Let’s take a quick tour of our local hydrologic situation. Continue reading