Drinking water source protection education

EWEB provides tools to help K-12 students understand water resource issues and the importance of protecting the McKenzie Watershed as a drinking water resource.

Through field-based learning, students are able to collect data that is used by others to support decisions and program development. Our hope is that students who participate in these programs will consider future careers in water resource related fields.

EWEB's community education programs

Read about EWEB's water-related classroom presentations and tours, educational activities and instructional materials.

Student monitoring

EWEB helps to support student water quality monitoring through financial contributions and in-kind staff time. Staff from the Springfield school district and McKenzie Watershed Council partner to coordinate student monitoring in the field. Thurston High School students have been monitoring water quality at two major tributaries to the McKenzie: Cedar Creek and Camp Creek.

EWEB staff collects split samples with the students at most of their monitoring sites a couple of times a year and submits these samples to a commercial lab to allow students to check their lab results. Many students involved in this program participate for several years in high school and become quite skilled at water quality analysis.

McKenzie Watershed Council

EWEB also supports the McKenzie Watershed Council's education program with funding and staff time. EWEB has been a McKenzie Watershed Council partner since 1993 and works with the council on many projects with landowners in the watershed.

Research assistance

EWEB works closely with Oregon State University and the University of Oregon to research issues that will impact how future generations approach water resource scarcity and natural resource management in the face of climate change and other challenges. EWEB has supported research on the following topics.

Climate change

This research was conducted by researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, led by Research Hydrologist Gordon Grant.

Some of the main potential climate change impacts in the McKenzie Watershed include:

  • Increasing temperatures
  • More extreme weather events
  • More rain than snow during the winter season
  • Earlier snow melt and peak runoff
  • Less water availability later in the summer causing potential water shortages

Climate change could lead to a host of potential problems in the McKenzie including increased toxic algal blooms, increased bacteria in the river (which leads to increases in disinfection byproduct formation when EWEB adds chlorine to treat raw water), increased disease in forests, larger and more severe wildfires, and flooding impacts to development and infrastructure. EWEB tries to factor in these potential impacts when designing programs to reduce and mitigate threats to Eugene's drinking water source.

The climate change research EWEB has supported indicates that in the headwaters of the McKenzie Watershed, young basalt flows act as large storage reservoirs for precipitation that occurs as either snow or rainfall during the winter season. Rainfall and snow melt move straight down into the porous lava surface rather than flowing overland via creeks or streams. It takes approximately four to six years for this water to exit this geologic sponge as large springs. This means the McKenzie will be more resilient in the face of climate change than other watersheds that do not have this unique geology and storage capability.

Development trends in the McKenzie Watershed

The goal of this University of Oregon research was to:

  • Assess historical development patterns
  • Evaluate Lane County development code to better understand development trends in riparian areas, floodways and other sensitive areas
  • Develop some recommendations to mitigate for future development impacts

See a summary of the developments studies and access complete reports

Ecosystem markets

Oregon State University conducted extensive research around the role public utilities could play in developing payment for programs that protect critical natural processes that provide clean water to utility customers. This natural capital essentially provides pre-treatment of water to reduce the costs of treating the water for customer consumption. However, these natural services are not currently valued monetarily, and as a result, are threatened by development and resource extraction.

Questions?

Email us for more information, or call Nancy Toth at 541-685-7438 or Karl Morgenstern at 541-685-7365.