Next week the Umatilla County Planning Commission will hear a presentation on the water plan that was five years in the making.

The final draft of the Umatilla Sub-Basin 2050 Water Management Plan came together on Aug. 19. It's the culmination of the five-year efforts by the Umatilla County Critical Groundwater Task Force.

The planning commission meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16 in the media room at the Umatilla County Justice Center (above the jail) at 4700 N.W. Pioneer Place in Pendleton.

After review from the planning commission the plan will go on to the board of commissioners.

In its preface, the plan notes it wasn't meant to be detailed on specific technical recommendations, but rather act as general guidelines for decision making when it comes to water policy.

Along the lines of providing those guidelines, two groups are emerging from the water policy effort.

The first is a transition team or bridge group to help move from the water plans on paper to implementing them in the county. Several members of the task force have volunteered to continue working in the water effort to make sure things go smoothly if and/or when the county begins implementing the 2050 Plan.

"There's so many management alternatives that need to be built upon," explained Umatilla County Assistant Planning Director J.R. Cook, "we need a public group to focus on the detail and tell the board of commissioners how this works."

The second group is called the Umatilla Basin Coalition. It will work to move the Umatilla Basin's needs into the state and federal forum.

To begin with, the coalition is getting ready for the 2009 Oregon legislative session by putting together a focused agenda.

"But it is the hope of the current participants that this group will evolve into a long-lasting coalition that could guide future water management decisions in the Umatilla Sub-Basin," Cook said in a memo to the county board of commissioners.

It is likely Commissioner Dennis Doherty will serve on both these boards, as he is the current water liaison for the board.

Either way, Cook sees both the groups, along with the 2050 Plan, serving a purpose in the county's water future.

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