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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

In 1909, the Legislature adopted the State Water Code, which stated that all water belongs to the public for use by the people for beneficial purposes and that a water right permit is required to use water. The State Engineer’s Office was responsible for issuing water right permits. In 1955, the Legislature adopted the Ground Water Act and created the State Water Resources Board to serve as Oregon’s water policy and planning department. In 1975, the Legislature created the Water Policy Review Board and merged the State Engineer’s Office with the State Water Resources Board to create the Water Resources Department (WRD). Policy responsibilities were transferred to the Water Policy Review Board, which was renamed the Water Resources Commission in 1985.

The seven-member commission oversees department activities and sets policy for practicing and promoting responsible water management. The department’s functions are to protect existing water rights, process new water rights, 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. Agency staff monitors streamflows at hundreds of gaging stations, maps and studies ground water aquifers, and helps develop Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy. The department supplies local governments and citizen groups with information and technical assistance to make and carry out their own water programs.

WRD employs about 150 people and is headquartered in Salem, with four regional offices and 15 field offices throughout Oregon.


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: 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