Community members contact me every week about land use applications that could expand low density residential development in our rural high desert landscape. One of the major reasons people give for opposing these applications is the increased demand that new development will place on our local aquifers and rivers.

At first glance, adding demand on local water supplies during a drought may seem silly. But when we look at water usage in the upper Deschutes Basin, the key opportunities to improve drought resiliency and ensure that we have enough water for our rivers and creeks, our farms, and our homes lie within agriculture, not through shutting down residential development. In addition, Oregon land use law provides limited tools to deny development in the upper Deschutes Basin based on water supply considerations.

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Phil Chang is one of three Deschutes County Commissioners and one of the tri-Chairs of the Deschutes Basin Water Collaborative. All views expressed in this guest column are his own.

(2) comments


Overall sounds good. I would just add that we need to grow outward and more densely as lowering real estate prices would go a long ways to building affordable housing.


I agree with Commissioner Chang and would like to add one thing. If agriculture is to make changes to their methods, shouldn't we encourage this with incentives to the farmers and/or ranchers? It would benefit everyone and in the long run wouldn't it be cheaper?

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