Water Resources Department

Present Duties

North Capitol Mall Office Building
The North Capitol Mall Office Building in Salem houses the central offices of the Water Resources Department. (Oregon State Archives Photo)
The foundation of Oregon’s water quantity laws go back to the settlement of the West; however, establishment of a comprehensive set of water laws and an office to oversee the state’s water resources did not occur until the office of State Engineer was created in 1905 and the Water Code was passed in 1909. The Water Code required that, with some exceptions, in order to use water in the state an individual had to first obtain a water right. Over time, a variety of offices, boards and commissions managed water resources and the water rights system.

Today, the Water Resources Department is the state agency charged with administration of the laws governing the management and distribution of surface and groundwater resources. The present form of the department was created in 1975, and the Water Resources Commission was established in 1985.

The department’s core functions are to protect existing water rights, process water right trans-actions, facilitate voluntary streamflow restoration, increase understanding of demands on the state’s water resources, provide accurate and accessible water resource data and facilitate water supply solutions. The department also protects public health and safety through its dam safety and well construction programs.

The department is currently organized into the following divisions: Director’s Office, Administrative Services, Field Services, Technical Ser­vices and Water Right Services. Department headquarters and the Northwest Regional office are in Salem. The department also has four other regional offices and 15 small field offices throughout Oregon.

Agency Website

Agency Subdivisions

Information about this agency's divisions, offices, programs, etc.

Contact Information

Mailing Address: 725 Summer St. NE, Suite A, Salem 97301
Telephone: 503-986-0900
Fax: 503-986-0904
Contact: Tom Byler, Director
Administrative Rules Coordinator Email: Diana Enright 
Records Officer Email: Courtney Wuethrich
Staff Directory from Oregon.gov
Location Map: by Google Maps

Legal and Legislative Information

Statutory Authority: ORS 536, 537, 538, 540, 541, 542, 543, 543A
Budget Analysis - by Legislative Fiscal Office
Audit Reports - select agency from menu

Records, Publications and General Information

Agency History - a detailed history of the agency
Records Retention Schedule - a list of the public records kept at the agency

State Archives Holdings from This Agency

The following are selected abbreviated listings from the holdings of the Oregon State Archives. Additional records may be available. These records may be viewed free of charge at the State Archives Building in Salem. Copies are available for a fee. Take the Web tour for more information about visiting or ordering copies from the Oregon State Archives.
 
Title: Administrative Correspondence and Reports
Dates: 1972-1983
Cubic Ft.: 1.8
 
Title: Administrative Rules Review Records
Dates: 1975-1977
Cubic Ft.: .2
 
Title: Arid land Records
Dates: 1905-1936
Volumes: 1
 
Title: Certificates of Proof
Dates: 1909-1955
Cubic Ft.: .25
 
Title: Columbia Southern Irrigating Company Case Records, Fiscal Records, Three Sisters
Dates: 1893 - 1916
Cubic Ft.: 5.75
 
Title: Desert Land Board Reclamation Records
Dates: 1901-1978
Cubic Ft.: 17.75
 
Title: Desert Land Board Records
Dates: 1903-1940
Cubic Ft.: 1
 
Title: Hydroelectric Commission Minutes
Dates: 1931-1961
Cubic Ft.: .5
Volumes: 2
 
Title: Hydroelectric Commission Peoples' Utility District Records
Dates: 1931-1968
Cubic Ft.: 7.35
 
Title: Hydroelectric Project Records
Dates: 1960-1987
Cubic Ft.: 18.9
 
Title: Irrigation and Drainage Securities Commission Minutes
Dates: 1917-1927
Cubic Ft.: .25
 
Title: Publications
Dates: 1956-1988
Cubic Ft.: 4.05
 
Title: Reclamation Commission Records
Dates: 1926-1958
Cubic Ft.: .6
 
Title: Reclamation Commission Minutes
Dates: 1927 - 1955
Volumes: 3
 
Title: State Engineer Records
Dates: 1905-1954
Cubic Ft.: .5
 
Title: Survey Records Books
Dates: 1920-1924
Cubic Ft.: 12
 
Title: United States Geological Survey Cooperative Agreements
Dates: 1905-1955
Cubic Ft.: .6
 
Title: Upper Columbia River Basin Commission Records
Dates: 1952-1956
Cubic Ft.: 4.15
 
Title: Water Policy Review Board Records
Dates: 1975-1984
Cubic Ft.: 3.35
 
Title: Water Resources Board Members (Emery N. Castle) Records
Dates: 1960-1973
Cubic Ft.: 2
 
Title: Water Resources Board Minutes
Dates: 1955-1975
Cubic Ft.: 1.65
 
Title: Water Resources Board Records
Dates: 1955-1975
Cubic Ft.: 10.65
 
Title: Water Resources Committee Records
Dates: 1951-1955
Cubic Ft.: 1.25
 
Title: Willamette River Basin Commission Records
Dates: 1930-1956
Cubic Ft.: 3.75