Local water crisis calls us all to action

Oct 26, 2020
Today, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are in the midst of a major water crisis. While most of us in Central Oregon take our water supply for granted, the Warm Springs community currently cannot and the Land Trust can’t sit idle and watch them struggle.


For the past 25 years the Deschutes Land Trust has conserved and cared for land in Central Oregon, working closely with a core partner: the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. These tribal communities are the original stewards of these lands, having lived upon and managed these lands since time immemorial. Today, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are in the midst of a major water crisis. While most of us in Central Oregon take our water supply for granted, the Warm Springs community currently cannot and the Land Trust can’t sit idle and watch them struggle. That’s why we have joined together with some of the Northwest’s leading conservation groups to partner with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Tribal community activists, and leaders at the state and federal level to help return reliable and safe water access to the people of Warm Springs.

Despite treaty and federal trust obligations, the people of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs—the largest reservation in the state of Oregon and our neighbors in Central Oregon—are now in the second year of a devastating water crisis due to a series of pressure breaks in key community water lines. More than 60% of Warm Springs residents lack regular, consistent access to clean water—preventing many families from regularly showering, doing laundry, or providing adequate water for livestock or crops. Immediate collective action is needed to help the people of Warm Springs as they manage both a devastating water emergency and community response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Our goals are two-fold: strengthen available financial resources to meet immediate, emergency health needs and advocate for policy solutions needed to help the people of Warm Springs restore their access and infrastructure for clean water. Our efforts, in turn, build upon the innovative work last year by the Warm Springs Community Action team, Tribal leaders, and the MRG Foundation in the creation of The Chúush Fund—an inventive financing tool allowing both the public and institutional funders alike to directly assist the people of Warm Springs in confronting this crisis.

Access to clean drinking water is essential to healthy, vibrant communities. It’s a basic human right that all who live in Central Oregon should equally enjoy. We all have a responsibility and role to play in helping the people of Warm Springs restore clean and stable water to their community. And by working creatively and collectively, we can help the people of Warm Springs meet immediate community water needs and build a new, stronger water infrastructure system to face the growing pressures of a changing climate on one of our most important natural resources.

Please consider donating to the Chúush Fund today to help restore access and infrastructure for clean water. Water is life.

Brad Chalfant
Founding Director


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