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Home > State > Executive > Water Resources Department

Water Resources Department > Web site

The North Capitol Mall Office Building in Salem houses the central offices of the Water Resources Department. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

The North Capitol Mall Office Building in Salem houses the central offices of the Water Resources Department. (Oregon State Archives Photo)

Present Duties

The Water Resources Department (WRD) was established in 1909 and is authorized by the Water Rights Act. By law, all
surface and ground water in Oregon belongs to the public. WRD protects existing water rights, facilitates voluntary streamflow restoration, increases understanding of the demands on the state’s water resources, provides accurate and accessible water resource data and facilitates water supply solutions.

As administrative chief of WRD, the director carries out water management policies set by the Water Resources Commission and oversees the enforcement of Oregon’s water laws. The director is appointed by the governor to a four-year term, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

WRD employs a wide variety of experts, including hydrologists, engineers, geologists, technicians and administrative specialists. Agency staff monitors streamflows at hundreds of gaging stations, maps and studies ground water aquifers, and helps develop Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Staff supplies local governments and citizen groups with information and technical assistance to carry out their own water programs.

WRD is represented throughout the state by a network of five regional and 15 field offices. Among other duties, regional managers meet with user groups to explain current water laws and how they affect local practices. Watermasters, under the direction of regional managers, enforce water laws and measure the waters of the state.


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: Phillip C. Ward, Director
Administrative Rules Coordinator E-mail: Joshua Spansail
Records Officer E-mail: Tracy Louden
Staff Directory from
Location Map: by Yahoo! Maps

Legal and Legislative Information

Statutory Authority: ORS 536.039
Budget Analysis (pdf) - by Legislative Fiscal Office
Audit Reports - select agency from menu

Records, Publications and General Information

Agency History (pdf) - a detailed history of the agency
Records Retention Schedule (pdf) - a list of the public records kept at the agency
State Archives Holdings - a select list of the agency's records available for research at the State Archives
State Library Publications - a link to the Oregon State Library Catalog