Kitzhaber keeps water director

Capital Press Phil Ward, director of the Oregon Water Resources department.

Some key cabinet officials who affect agriculture will stay

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

Oregon Water Resources Department Director Phil Ward is among several natural resource agency directors Gov. John Kitzhaber has reappointed.

"I'm pleased to get the opportunity to continue some of the good work we've begun," Ward said in a new release issued by the governor Feb. 15 after learning he was selected.

Kitzhaber also reappointed Roy Elicker at Fish and Wildlife, Dick Pederson at Environmental Quality, Richard Whitman at Land Conservation and Development, and Louse Solliday at State Lands to their director positions.

Kitzhaber previously reappointed Katy Coba as director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Ward, who was appointed Water Resources director in 2004 by then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski, said he has high hopes for the department to move forward on projects begun in recent years.

Key to his optimism is that Kitzhaber, in the budget he proposed earlier this month, supported several programs Ward said are vital for Oregon to define and meet its long-term water needs.

"The budget indicates the governor's interest for bringing good things to fruition," Ward said.

The budget includes an infusion of water development loan funds and $15 million in lottery backed bonds for non-municipal water projects in the Columbia River Basin.

The governor also allocated $3.5 million in bonds for work in the Klamath Basin.

Kitzhaber also included nearly $300,000 in his budget for continued work on Oregon's Integrated Water Resources Strategy, which is the development of a long-term plan for dealing with water issues in the state.

The budget also includes $1.2 million in lottery backed bonds for feasibility study grants that Ward said are critical in helping water reuse, conservation and supply projects get off the ground.

"That is a modest investment that could generate big returns for Oregonians now and in the future," Ward said.

Ward said the agency will concentrate on streamlining operations to reduce the time it takes to process water right and water transfer permits.

"Our emphasis going forward is to continue to do the things that gets water where Oregonians need it," Ward said.

Ward said the department hopes to finish Oregon's long-term water resources strategy by December 2012.

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