Partnership to protect the McKenzie River

May 20, 2016

Nearly 200,000 residents in Oregon’s Eugene-Springfield area share something besides geography.

They all rely on the McKenzie River as their sole source of drinking water.

The 90-mile tributary of the Willamette is an integral artery of the region – and not only because it’s the source of the water flowing from so many taps.

Paddlers travel from across the state to ride its rapids. Hikers and mountain bikers follow its meanders. Endangered Spring Chinook and threatened Columbia River Bull Trout thrive in its cold, clear depths.
But population growth has had consequences on the defining waterway.

“We need to find a balance between watershed health and human use,” said Karl Morgenstern, environmental management supervisor for the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB). “Threats to the McKenzie from development include the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers, contamination from septic systems, increased erosion and sediment from construction activities, and removal of native streamside vegetation.”

In recent years, The Freshwater Trust has been part of a collaborative effort with local conservation groups, alongside EWEB and the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC), to implement a series of restoration actions to improve the quality of a river that links so many…

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