Watershed Watch is the Tualatin Riverkeepers’ environmental advocacy program. The Tualatin Riverkeepers are the first and strongest voice in protection of the Tualatin River and its tributaries. We are proud to have been forged out of citizen activism that forced the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Quality to enforce pollution limits in the Tualatin River. Since these early days, TRK has helped steer water management agencies in the direction of conservation and we are proud to now count organizations such as Clean Water Services and Metro as partners in our vision for a sustainable watershed. Nonetheless, TRK will always remain an independent voice for clean waters and its watchdog capabilities are a constant reminder that the citizens of the Tualatin Watershed will be working to ensure the Clean Water Act remains enforced and that innovative solutions such as green infrastructure help businesses adapt to more environmentally friendly practices for the health of our river.
Over the past 25 years, TRK’s volunteer Watershed Watch Committee has produced a solid and cohesive network of “river professors”, citizens with decades of experience directly on the river and in-depth knowledge of riparian ecology and geology as well as wildlife biology and the legal framework that impacts development in and around the river. TRK utilizes these experts to help navigate complex technical reports and environmental regulations on behalf of the public’s concerns by being a voice at Metro’s urban expansion hearings, Oregon Department of Agriculture’s water quality planning process and Department of Environmental Quality’s water quality revision standards. Citizens can also report a problem via our online portal ‘Trouble Tickets’ and agency contact list for news related to pollution, illegal dumping, invasive weeds, and poaching.
TRK’s river professors and Water Watch Committee stay active not only amongst their own networks, but team up with our educational program to help instil the importance of river conservation to a new generation. TRK protects our river and streams by partnering with government agencies to pass and enforce legislation and environmental laws that improve our river’s health. Issues that we are currently active on include land use planning, stormwater and green infrastructure, wetland permits, agricultural water quality planning and water resources planning.
Lastly, TRK will continue to shape its programs to be sensitive to challenges that climate change presents for the Pacific Northwest and our watershed in particular. This includes crafting climate adaptation strategies such as green infrastructure installation in key regions of the Tualatin River which respond to changes in timing and amount of seasonal flooding as well as analyzing how water temperature fluctuations may affect the Tualatin River and its sensitive biodiversity.
Where does the water in the Tualatin watershed come from?
1. Beaverton: Receives water from two sources, the Tualatin River and local wells. The Tualatin River is pumped through a water treatment plant and stored in reservoirs in Spring Hill, outside of Forest Grove. The wells are recharged in the winter and pumped in the summer. (Joint Water Commission regulates this area)
2. Forest Grove: Receives water from the Tualatin River. The water from the river is pumped through a water treatment plant and stored in reservoirs in Spring Hill, outside of Forest Grove. (Joint Water Commission regulates this area)
3. Hillsboro: Receives water from the Tualatin River. The water from the river is pumped through a water treatment plant and stored in reservoirs in Spring Hill, outside of Forest Grove. (Joint Water Commission regulates this area)
4. Sherwood: Receives their water from the Willamette River.
5. Tigard: Receives their water from the Clackamas River.
6. Unincorporated Washington County: Receives water from the City of Portland’s Bull Run Reservoir. (Tualatin Valley Water District regulates this area)
7. Wilsonville: Receives their water from the Willamette River.
Water supply and earthquake readiness: The Willamette Water Supply Program (WWSP) will bring water from the Willamette River to Hillsboro and the surrounding area by 2026. The Joint Water Commission and the Tualatin Valley Water District will be partnering with the City of Hillsboro to make this project happen.The project’s goal is to have an adequate water supply for future demands and to provide clean, safe water reliably. Developing an additional water supply through a partnership supports the region’s plans for responsible growth within the urban growth boundary. An important aspect of the project’s plan is that the new 30+ miles of pipeline will be built to modern seismic standards. Emergency concerns related to the long-predicted Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake prompted the pipeline discussion in the first place. Tualatin Riverkeepers role in the project has been, and will continue to be, recommending actions that limit the negative impacts to natural resources. Recently, TRK’s Watershed Watch committee commented on which pipeline route should be chosen for the project, which resulted in the pipeline route that will cause less damage to the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge.