Signed on 6/1/2021, into effect 1/1/2022
This Act relates to water project community engagement, where a water project includes “watershed enhancement, in-stream flow protection or enhancement, water resource conservation or development, or water supply and wastewater treatment and disposal projects.” And ““Water project support” means planning, technical assistance or financial support related to a water project that is provided to an eligible recipient by one of the following providers: (A) The Department of Environmental Quality; (B) The Oregon Business Development Department; (C) The State Department of Fish and Wildlife; (D) The Oregon Health Authority; (E) The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board; or (F) The Water Resources Department.” These agencies will provide funding for planning for community engagement to local organizations and local governments.
While this legislation does not specifically mention “environmental justice,” it does target “impacted communities.” Water project support providers “Shall require that community engagement plans supported by the provider utilize goals and approaches for increased participation of disproportionately impacted communities in decisions related to the identification, scoping, design and implementation of water projects.”
“Disproportionately impacted communities” is broadly defined, and “may include: (A) Rural communities; (B) Coastal communities; (C) Areas with above-average concentrations of historically disadvantaged households or residents with low levels of educational attainment, areas with high unemployment, high linguistic isolation, low levels of homeownership or high rent burden or sensitive populations; or (D) Other communities that face barriers to meaningful participation in public processes.”
Water project decision-making plans should invite and support “broad community participation that includes disproportionately impacted communities; (B) Invites and supports tribal participation in the areas of water projects or proposed water projects, regardless of whether tribal members are represented in the community demographics; (C) Establishes specific goals for equitable participation and water project decision-making and identifies specific realistic and achievable approaches for use in meeting those goals.”
- Action Agency(ies): Water Resources Department oversees, other participating agencies include: Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Business Development Department, State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Health Authority, and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
- Policy Champions: Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, League of Women Voters of Oregon, Willamette Partnership
- Read the full policy language