has taken some time, but HB 2060 has finally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, which was introduced in January of 2011 under the title Central Oregon Jobs and Water Security Act, will allow a small hydro power facility at Bowman Dam, provide up to 5,100 acre-feet of water for the City of Prineville, as well as move the boundary line for the wild and scenic portion of Crooked River downstream one quarter of a mile. The bill will also provide for accelerated restoration on McKay Creek, an important steelhead tributary.
The bill is a good bill that should quickly become law.
It never did make sense for a wild and scenic river boundary to be drawn across the center of a dam. The 5,100 acre-feet of water allocated to the city will not harm either irrigation or recreational activities and will guarantee that the City of Prineville will have an adequate water supply for industrial use moving into the future. Not only that, the additional power provided by a small hydro facility at the base of the dam will be a welcome addition to the power grid.
“Rep. Walden’s bill will allow us to have water for our businesses as our town continues to grow,” said Crook County Judge Mike McCabe. “It gives us the hand up that we need so we can pursue other businesses with assurances that we’ll have the water resources they require.”
Not only will the bill provide the City of Prineville with a long-term water supply, it comes at no cost to taxpayers.
Representative Greg Walden, of Hood River, was largely responsible for passage of the bill. Walden worked closely with local leaders, listening to their concerns and drafting a bill that will help Prineville and Crook County moving into the future.
Although the bill has passed the House of Representatives, there are still hurdles to clear before it becomes law. The bill still awaits passage in the Senate and Presidential approval before becoming law.
Walden has put in a lot of time and energy to try to ensure that Prineville’s needs are met moving into the future. Wyden and Merkley have expressed less concrete support for the bill. To this point neither has stepped forward to fully endorse it.
The bill does not harm the environment, has no cost to taxpayers, and provides for future business growth. That should be an easy sell. Now is the time for Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden to get on board, step up, and help guide the bill through the Senate. HB 2060 should become law. It is up to Merkley and Wyden to make sure that happens.