October 10, 2011
Water Watch of Oregon
Last summer I worked with WaterWatch of Oregon, a public interest group safeguarding rivers throughout the state. Of three attorneys in the downtown office, two graduated from L&C, one recently deemed the “bulldog” of river protection in the Oregonian. My internship exposed me to the cast of players involved with water rights, and the antiquity of the laws that guide them. Beyond legal research and strategizing in the office, I traveled to Salem to observe settlement negotiations and review permits, and to the beautiful mountain forests of Eastern Oregon to field check water diversions on public lands. I helped put together a petition to ensure thoughtful, precautionary allocation of controversial water rights in the Klamath River Basin. I took with me a more comprehensive understanding of the hard work that public interest environmental lawyering entails. I also felt the sense of fun, community, and numerous successes that make it worthwhile. As the country and the world face growing challenges to equitable and sustainable water allocation, species and human livelihoods that depend on free-flowing rivers need advocates. I was lucky to post a short watch, and hope to return to it.