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Agriculture & Water | Legislative Council on River Governance (LCRG)

LCRG Focuses on Water Supply, Investment and Sustainability Along Columbia River Basin

By CSG West

Under the leadership of Oregon Senator Bill Hansell, chair of the Legislative Council on River Governance (LCRG), CSG West hosted the annual meeting of LCRG August 9-11 in Boardman, Oregon. LCRG brings together state legislators from the four Columbia River basin states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho to address shared concerns and exchange dialogue.

Congressman Cliff Bentz, who represents Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and includes the community of Boardman, joined attending policymakers and other key stakeholders during the forum’s welcome reception. Congressman Bentz, who served as a member of LCRG when he was in the Oregon Senate, highlighted the importance of state and federal cooperation to meet the needs of the Columbia River basin, as well as his efforts in Congress.

The forum’s substantive sessions commenced with keynote remarks from the chair of The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), Kat Brigham, who was recently appointed to the inaugural Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Ensuing panel discussion focused on water sustainability efforts in the Mid-Columbia Region. J.R. Cook, Director of the Northeast Oregon Water Association, emphasized the need for interstate collaboration and co-investment, while asserting that federal assistance is needed to secure a target of 150,000 acre-feet of mitigation water. CTUIR representative Chris Marks discussed transboundary water management challenges and opportunities along the Walla Walla River Watershed, and Office of Columbia River (OCR) Director Tom Tebb illustrated water supply development projects for both instream and out-of-stream uses, as well as key highlights  from the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Management Plan. Tebb also discussed opportunities to leverage federal investments in the Yakima Basin following the passage of The John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, a federal land conservation bill that received bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2019.

Other key areas of focus included global and local irrigation projects and trends, with IRZ Engineering President Fred Ziari underscoring the impact of global population growth on irrigation market demands. Participants also learned about Aquatic Gas Optimization in connection with improved sustainability of fish and hydropower during a session led by Merck Animal Health Fisheries Scientist Nick Porter.

Commissioner Dan Dorran, Senator Bill Hansell, and Commissioner John Shafer at the Umatilla County Fair.

This year’s LCRG included a tour and dinner hosted at the Umatilla County Fair, in addition to a dairy and farm policy tour at Threemile Canyon Farms, whose community of over 300 team members employ sustainable farming practices and advanced technologies to meet the needs of a growing population. 

The leadership of LCRG, pursuant to the program’s bylaws, will rotate to Montana. In the coming weeks, CSG West staff will work with the LCRG delegates from Montana to solicit their recommendation of chair, as well as location for the forum’s meeting in 2023. 

CSG West offers a special thanks to current LCRG Chair, Oregon Senator Bill Hansell, whose engagement, collaboration and leadership was integral for a successful meeting.

Oregon Senator and LCRG Chair, Bill Hansell, with wife, Margaret Hansell

PowerPoint presentations (in PDF format) from the 2022 LCRG speakers can be accessed at the links below. For questions about LCRG, please contact Jackie Tinetti, Policy Analyst, at