McKenzie Watershed Emergency Response System
Tanker spill on Highway 58 near Oakridge

Tanker truck spill on Highway 58 near Oakridge, in the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed.

As part of its Drinking Water Source Protection program, EWEB worked closely with 27 other federal, state and local agencies to implement a McKenzie Watershed Emergency Response System (MWERS).

MWERS is used by incident commanders to quickly gain access to crucial information, equipment and trained personnel allowing for an effective response. Watershed responders use Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to access information on a threats, critical resources, spill response strategies, equipment availability and other information needed during a crisis. First responders and others are able to use this information to efficiently and effectively stabilize accidental or intentional chemical releases as soon as possible and avoid the initial confusion often associated with spills.

How responders use MWERS

First responders can do the following with the computerized, web-based program:

  • Enter the location of a spill and then zoom in on a map and photo of the area. The responder then can visually assess the situation.
  • Get a detailed, specific response plan for the segment of the river where a spill occurred. Each response strategy provides detailed information and instructions the responder will use to mitigate a spill.
  • Get an inventory of equipment that is available.
  • Get a list of contacts and locations of where equipment is located.
  • Identify storm drains and culverts.
  • Create a report that shows the travel time of the pollutant that has spilled.
  • Get an estimate of the population that might be affected.
  • Get a list of upstream facilities that use or store hazardous materials.
Training and drills

An important component of EWEB's approach to watershed emergency planning is raising the level of preparedness among all partner agencies through training and by conducting drills together. EWEB has conducted training covering the following topics:

  • Incident Command System (ICS)
  • Oil on Water Response Tactics
  • HazMat Awareness
  • HazMat Operations
  • HazMat Incident Response Tactics
  • Fast Water Spill Response Tactics
  • Basic GIS Training

In addition to increased preparedness and heightened awareness of HazMat issues, these training courses brought together participating agencies and allowed them to understand each other's roles, build trust and working relationships, and better understand what resources/expertise each agency could bring to an incident.

Partner agencies

The following agencies have supported the development of MWERS:

  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Eugene Fire and EMS
  • Lane Air Pollution Authority
  • Lane Council of Governments (LCOG)
  • Lane County Public Health
  • Lane County Public Works
  • Lane County Sheriff
  • McKenzie Fire and Rescue
  • McKenzie Watershed Council
  • Mohawk Rural Fire
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • Oregon Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Health Division
  • Oregon State Police
  • Oregon Water Master
  • Rainbow Water District
  • Region 2 HazMat Team
  • Springfield Fire and Line Safety
  • Springfield Environmental Services Division
  • Springfield Public Works
  • Springfield Utility Board
  • Upper McKenzie Rural Fire
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Weyerhaeuser

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