Oregon Water Futures

Oregon Water Futures

The Oregon Water Futures Project is a collaboration between water and environmental justice interests, Indigenous peoples, communities of color, low-income communities, and academic institutions.

Through a water justice lens, we aim to impact how the future of water in Oregon is imagined through storytelling, capacity building, relationship building, policymaking, and community-centered advocacy at the state and local levels.

Working Towards Water Justice in Oregon

Oregon Water Futures Report 2021

The Oregon Water Futures project has learned that a vision for water justice in the state must engage low-income, rural, BIPOC, and migrant communities as community assets. These communities both contribute valuable culturally specific values and knowledge about how to best care for water for generations to come and provide insights into water resources, infrastructure, and management. These contributions and insights must be engaged for truly inclusive legislative and policy-making action in the state. 

A changing climate, aging infrastructure across the state, and lack of ongoing investment in clean water have left Oregon’s water systems stressed, putting our health, safety, economy, and environment at risk. Communities of color, particularly those that are rural and low income, are often on the front lines of these impacts, facing a wide range of threats, including rising utility rates, disparities in drought and flooding vulnerability, and exposure to nitrates, pesticides, and heavy metals. 

In recognition of these challenges and the increasing vulnerability of our water resources, Willamette Partnership has partnered with Coalition of Communities of Color, Verde, University of Oregon, and Oregon Environmental Council to elevate water priorities from communities currently underrepresented or historically discriminated against in water policy decision-making, particularly Native, people of color, migrant, and low-income communities.

The Conversations

In 2020, the Oregon Water Futures Project co-conceptualized and facilitated a series of conversations with Native, Latinx, Black, and various migrant communities across the state – including Indigenous Latin American, Caribbean, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, Pacific Islander, and Somali communities. These conversations lifted up culturally-specific ways of interacting with drinking water and bodies of water; concerns around water quality and cost; resiliency in the face of challenges to access water resources essential for physical, emotional, and spiritual health; and a desire for water resource education and to be better equipped to advocate for water resources. Building off of this work our goals for the next two years are:

  • Lift up voices from across the state about water and environmental justice issues
  • Identify and elevate community priorities for water and culturally-specific resiliency
  • Build capacity around water advocacy
  • Foster a statewide water justice movement

Have questions about Oregon Water Futures?

 

Lynny Brown | Partner, Health & Outdoors
email | lynny@willamettepartnership.org