Supporting Collaborative Conservation






Coordinating the Pure Water Partners Collaborative


Willamette Partnership is proud to be supporting the Eugene-based Pure Water Partners in their collaborative effort to protect and restore the iconic McKenzie river. Willamette Partnership was selected to serve as the first Pure Water Partners Coordinator. As coordinator, we organize and facilitate the collaborative’s monthly meetings and are guiding the development of the Pure Water Partners’ foundational operations and planning processes.  With this work, we’re helping to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Pure Water Partners to support wildlife, clean drinking water, and a healthy McKenzie River watershed for everyone.


McKenzie river

The McKenzie River, known as one of Oregon’s most pristine and healthy rivers, is the sole source of drinking water for nearly 200,000 residents in and around the City of Eugene, Oregon. While most of the land within the McKenzie River Watershed is National Forest land, the riparian corridors are largely in private ownership. These riparian areas are critical to buffering the river from human uses in the watershed, including forest harvest, agriculture, development, and transportation.

In 2010, Eugene Water & Electric Board’s Source Water Protection Program convened a collaborative stakeholder group to design and implement an incentive-based strategy to protect existing healthy riparian areas and restore degraded riparian forests along the McKenzie River through voluntary actions. This program, known as the Voluntary Incentives Program, was launched in 2014, and rebranded as the Pure Water Partners in 2016.


The Pure Water Partners are a collection of agencies, organizations, and businesses that are working together to protect and restore water quality in the McKenzie River Watershed and maintain clean, healthy drinking water for the more than 200,000 people. More information at


The Project

Pure Water Partners Meeting

In December 2019, Willamette Partnership facilitated a series of stakeholder listening sessions for the Upper Willamette Soil and Water Conservation District to better understand the current landscape of agricultural and conservation programming in Eastern Lane County. These meetings supported the District’s exploration of a tax base initiative, a possible future funding source for the Pure Water Partners.

Over the past five years, partners collaborated to build the Pure Water Partners program by setting up a pilot project, recruiting landowners, performing initial landowner riparian assessments, and purchasing and rolling out a sophisticated accounting software system. In 2018, the Pure Water Partners began the next step in their collaborative effort: establishing the McKenzie Watershed Conservation Fund (“Fund”). The Fund will be used to provide financial support to the Pure Water Partners, with the goal of becoming a sustainable funding source.

Willamette Partnership, along with project partners Moss Adams and Perkins Coie, led the design of the governance and finance systems that make up the Fund. Through a series of facilitated workshops, Willamette Partnership helped the Pure Water Partners define and document the processes by which they make decisions, receive and disburse funds, prioritize projects on the ground, and measure and report progress. The results of this project are the Pure Water Partners governance handbook, documented financial procedures, and a Memorandum of Agreement that will help the Pure Water Partners operate efficiently and transparently. 

In 2019, Willamette Partnership was selected as the first Pure Water Partners Coordinator. As coordinator, the Partnership is working to advance the shared goals of the collaborative by taking on the month-to-month management of the collaborative to allow members to focus on program priorities. In addition to meeting design and facilitation, we are developing processes for the operation and growth of the program including: an operating plan; annual work plans; a financial plan; and an assessment of the regional expansion of the Pure Water Partners program, beyond the McKenzie River Watershed.


Want to know more about the work from our Clean Water Program?

Get in touch about the Pure Water Partners


Kristiana Teige Witherill staff photo


Have questions about the Pure Water Partners?

Kristiana Teige Witherill, Partner, Natural Infrastructure
email |
office | 503.946.1904




Banner photo of McKenzie River, Koosah Falls in Willamette National Forest / USFS