Skip to main content

Water Rights 101: How Oregon Water Law is Impacting the Deschutes River Basin Today

Wednesday, August 17, from 6-8PM

Open Space Event Studios:
220 NE Lafayette Ave 
Bend, OR 97701

May contain: advertisement, poster, flyer, brochure, paper, egg, and food
Click here to register. 


Do rivers have rights? Back when Oregon was developing its water laws in the early 1900s, any water that remained unused and left instream was considered wasted. As Euro-American settlers flocked to the West in search of land, water rights were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the date that water was put to use. When all was said and done, more water rights were given out than could be sustained by the river. This resulted in deep inequities between water users and highly managed flows that led to the decline in the overall health of the rivers and species in the basin. 

It wasn’t until 1987 that rivers themselves gained legal water rights under Oregon’s Instream Water Rights Act. Since 1996, Deschutes River Conservancy has been putting this Act to use. Join us on August 17th for an interactive discussion on how we got in the water situation we’re in and what we can do moving forward.