Mosier evaluates critical water issues

Maintaining regional watersheds remains a critical factor when it comes to supporting Wasco County infrastructure, particularly in Mosier’s watershed.

That’s according to District Watershed Coordinator Anna Buckley, who told the Board of Commissioners March 19 about some of the biggest problems that currently inhibit the area watersheds’ efficiency and what the councils are doing to address those issues.

Wasco County watershed councils are made up of local individuals that work together to conserve the natural resources within their watershed, including volunteers that live or work in the watershed area and who represent a variety of different interests.

“Watershed maintenance has been a huge issue in the Mosier area, for example,” Buckley said. “Our focus has been on addressing ground water supply, which has seen about a 150- to 200-inch decline over the last 30 years.”

Buckley said that improperly co-mingling wells were the main source of the problem.

“Almost 80 percent of the decline is due to these co-mingling wells, and the priority areas we really need to focus on include about 150 of them,” she said.

When asked how the wells came to be so faulty, Buckley said that the very structures of Mosier’s co-mingling wells were the cause of most of the trouble.

“In Mosier, they belong to the Columbia River Basalt family, which are naturally impermeable,” she said. “This means that the water bearing zones are separated from the basalt, allowing a pathway for high pressure aquifers to create sort of a leaky bathtub system and flow right into Mosier Creek, which is the reason why we’ve seen such heavy declines over the years.”

“It’s not necessarily because we’ve had any over-extraction,” Buckley added. “No, 80 percent really is due to the wells’ faulty construction.”

Most of the wells were built in the 1970s and are very deep. As a result, in order to replenish dwindling water supplies, wells need to be dug deeper and deeper each time water runs low.

“All of the water we’re talking about here is pretty old, too,” Buckley said. “And since the entire Mosier area relies on the ground water for all their irrigation as well as all their daily water needs — it’s a big issue.”

Within the past year, Buckley reports that the Soil and Water Conservation District and they have teamed up to evaluate the existing wells on the ground and are currently in the process of developing a repair plan, but that it’s “definitely going to take a long time to get the water back up.”

When it comes to The Dalles Watershed Council in particular, Buckley said, a huge amount of effort has gone toward engaging the community and raising awareness about watershed issues in the area.

In 2013, the council coordinated a master gardener plant sale and a Creekview planting work party, followed by a riverfront work party just earlier this month.

“We’ve also been working with the city to troubleshoot the ‘mystery pipe’ contributing to the E. coli in Mill Creek, as well as restoration work regarding the Mill Creek floodplain reconnection project, with the aim to reduce flooding and improve fishing habitat.”

Buckley said the council is in the process of applying for grants from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and other potential funding sources with the goal of implementing the project in the summer of 2015.

In response to some recent changes to the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s criteria, Buckley said the councils are in the process of developing a coordinating board that will help prioritize efforts.

“The board will include representing members from each council,” she said. “And I think it’s really going to help us communicate with each other better so that we’re all more aware of what’s going on around the county.”

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners