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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Audit Finds Problems At Oregon's Water Resources Department

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File photo. The Bull Run River is the primary source of drinking water for Portland.

The agency in charge of managing Oregon's water resources is being stretched to the limit. That's one of the findings in a new audit from the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

The Oregon Water Resources Department oversees the state's water rights and works to ensure the state has an adequate supply for the future. The new audit says the agency has been focusing too much time on managing existing water rights instead of working to sustain Oregon's water resources for the long run.

Auditors said that by 2050, Oregon could need an additional 424 billion gallons of water to meet agricultural, municipal and industrial needs.

The agency said it by and large agrees with the audit. But in a response, director Thomas Byler noted that the department is working within the constraints of another limited resource: funding.