The Oregon Water Resources Department will host a pair of meetings in Umatilla County to discuss new water metering requirements for farmers in the Walla Walla sub-basin.

Informational meetings are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11 from 5-8 p.m. at the Milton-Freewater Community Building and Tuesday, Dec. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at Weston Memorial Hall.

On May 11, the Oregon Water Resources Commission designated the 300,000-acre Walla Walla sub-basin as a “serious water management problem area,” meaning OWRD will no longer approve new agricultural wells within the boundary.

The designation also requires farmers and ranchers with permitted basalt wells to install flow meters and report water usage to regulators by no later than Jan. 1, 2019. Cost sharing opportunities are available through OWRD and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, which will be discussed at both meetings.

Justin Iverson, groundwater section manager for the department, said the designation was made to address declining groundwater supplies in the sub-basin, which includes Milton-Freewater and Weston.

“We’re pumping more than the aquifer is recharging,” Iverson said.

Iverson emphasized that exempt groundwater uses are still allowed in the area, including domestic use and stock water wells.

For more information, contact Iverson at 503-986-0933 or local watermaster Greg Silbernagel at 541-278-5456.

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