By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill to create the state's first water supply development fund.
The Senate in a Saturday afternoon session July 6 sent Senate Bill 839 to the House by a vote of 29-1.
The House on July 7 gave the bill its unanimous support.
Also July 7, lawmakers began moving a bill to populate the fund with approximately $10 million in lottery backed bonds.
The funding in Senate Bill 5533 would be available for water supply developers to tap to help pay for projects.
Lawmakers moved SB5533 from the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Capital Construction to the full Ways and Means Committee.
Lawmakers are expected to suspend rules and move the bill through the full Ways and Means Committee and both chambers before closing the session, which could come as soon as July 8.
In addition to establishing the water-supply-development fund, SB839 sets up criteria projects must meet to access it.
Qualifying projects, for example, must provide economic and environmental benefits.
"I think there are three basins that can immediately use (the fund)," Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Pendleton, said earlier this month after the Ways and Means committee moved the bill, "the Willamette, the Deschutes and the Umatilla."
The bill now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign it. Richard Whitman, Kitzhaber's natural resources policy advisor worked with stakeholders to craft the bill.