Why We Love Water

Why We Love Water

By Bobby Cochran


Love Letters to WaterEver wondered why Oregonians love water so much? I was lucky enough to travel around the state this fall with Meta Loftsgaarden and Bryn Hudson of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and Jamie Damon with the Institute of Natural Resources to discuss Oregon’s 100-year Water Vision. We got a chance to hear from over 4,000 of Oregon’s current water leaders including people who provide drinking water, treat wastewater, people who protect our homes from floods, farmers, tribes, environmental activists, and the list goes on!

From them, we heard loud and clear that:

  • Water is the lifeblood that sustains us and our communities;
  • We need to recognize the threats posed to water by climate change, communities growing or shrinking, and other future trends; and
  • There is an urgency to act, in a holistic way, to invest in our water future — now and for the next seven generations of Oregon residents.

There was no doubt that people love water. It didn’t matter whether you were in Ontario or Albany, Tillamook or Bend—people shared a lot of the same needs and hopes for water.

For me, my life story is a water story. I knew I had fallen in love with my now wife, Vanessa, forever when we dipped our toes into a lake at the headwaters of the Feather River where I was working in far northern California—the same headwaters that fuels California’s farm economy and energy supply. I’ve worked with rivers ever since—The Los Angeles River (Yes! It is a river, and not just a backdrop for Terminator movies), the Mekong River, and now Oregon’s mighty rivers.


This Valentine’s season is a great time to rekindle our love for water.

Why now? Every day is a good day to appreciate water—the water that grows our food, comes to our homes to drink, flows through rivers, and defines so much of what Oregon is. But right now, the Oregon Legislature is also meeting for its “Short Session.” There is a new House Water Committee, and they’re starting to talk about what the future of Oregon’s water might be.

So what might it look like if each one of us loved water, like really loved it? We might:

  • Invite a new friend to experience a river. Everyone’s voice matters in our water future and we can grow water leadership in youth and other passionate community members across Oregon.
  • Put our money where our love is. It’s been a half century since the last big investment in water infrastructure!
  • Let your representatives know how important water is to you. Contact state and local policy makers to share your hopes for Oregon’s water future.
  • Don’t take your love for water for granted. Why not make a pledge this Valentine’s Day to write and share your own love letter to water, like some of our friends below.

Learn more about Oregon’s efforts to secure our water future at www.oregonwatervision.org.

Do you love water?

We’re hiring a Natural Infrastructure Partner! 

Learn more about the position and how to apply, here.

The Love Letters to Water Story Map was produced for Valentine’s Day, 2019 and has been updated for February 2020. 

Bobby Cochran led Willamette Partnership's work around building community resilience and innovation. He is passionate about supporting community leaders to move resources from dumb stuff to better stuff - especially when that means clean water, better health, and economic inclusion. Bobby is now with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. He received a Ph.D./M.A. in Urban Studies/Conflict Resolution from Portland State University.


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