“My residential well has run dry.” “Is my well water safe to drink or use to water the plants in my garden?” These were some of the comments and questions heard over a two-year period by members of the Harney Community-Based Water Planning Collaborative (referred to as the ‘CBWP Collaborative’). The CBWP Collaborative is a group of water-users, organizations, and agencies currently developing a local, integrated water resources management plan for the Harney basin. Stories and questions shared within the Collaborative’s discussions have prompted the group to further explore what local residential well-users are experiencing.

In the coming week, a sample of residential well owners in the Harney Basin (see map) will be receiving a simple questionnaire from Oregon State University’s Survey Research Center. If you receive a questionnaire, please complete it to the best of your knowledge and return it to the Survey Research Center in the postage-paid envelope provided. It is possible that you will be mailed more than one

questionnaire if you own more than one property within the study region. The primary question is: What are residential well users experiencing with water quantity and quality? At this point, there is very little information about these wells and the water quantity and quality issues faced by rural residents who supply their

own water.

The confidential questionnaire is a big opportunity to help the CBWP Collaborative and our community understand the consequences of groundwater-level declines in the Harney Basin. Groundwater levels are declining in some areas of the basin because more water is being taken out of the ground than is replenished each year through rainfall.

No identifiable information such as name or address will be included in the questionnaire results. Results are confidential. The data collected will better inform the CBWP Collaborative in determining ways to help address the basin’s groundwater needs.

“I can’t overemphasize how important it is for basin residents to fill out and send the questionnaire back,” said Diane Rapaport, Vice-Chair of the Harney County Watershed Council. “There is no other way to find out just what is happening out there in the basin and the difficulties many people are enduring.”

Funding for the survey was made possible from a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. To learn more about the Community-Based Water Planning Collaborative, please visit: http://hcwatershedcouncil.com/community-based-water-planning/.

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