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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 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 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
Location Map: by Yahoo! Maps

Legal and Legislative Information

Statutory Authority: ORS 536, 537, 538, 540, 541, 542, 543, 543A
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