SALEM -- Farmers leasing their water right to other uses could do so at a reduced cost under a bill lawmakers are considering.
House Bill 2983 removes a $100 renewal fee for the instream lease program. An amendment to the bill keeps intact the original $250 fee.
The fees are in place to help the Oregon Department of Water Resources recover costs to administer the program.
With about 50 such renewals a year, the annual cost of eliminating the fee is about $5,000.
The instream lease program is used by farmers to prevent loss of a water right when fallowing crops, or not using a right for other reasons. Under Oregon law, a water right is subject to forfeiture if it is not put to beneficial use every five years.
The lease program constitutes a beneficial use.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on March 30 moved HB2983 to the House floor with a do-pass recommendation.