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Oregon Planners Journal

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Urban ecology -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Water-supply -- Oregon -- Effect of land use on, Water conservation -- Oregon


Over the next 30 years, the population of Oregon is expected to grow by 1.6 million residents, of which half is expected to locate in the three counties comprising the Portland metropolitan region. At current rates of population growth and water use, by 2040 the region will consume the amount of water equivalent to Crater Lake. Combine with this demand, climate projections which suggest a substantial decrease in available water during summer months when water use is highest. Since Oregon's industries and households depend on the Cascade Mountains for water supply, these challenges pose serious threats to economic development plans and for sustaining current population growth trends. The convergence of higher demand and limited supply make for a perfect storm in water resource management, and we will need timely, effective, and coordinated actions for ensuring adequate water for all. Despite these concerns, we currently have a limited understanding about the role of land use planning in water resource management. While readers of the Oregon Planners Journal are no strangers to the challenges of water planning, the role of land use planning decisions in water use remains unclear. Specifically, how can planning decisions affect the amount of water consumed in a region? What are the linkages between land use patterns and water consumption? Can land use policies play a part in shaping the water available for a growing state? At Portland State University (PSU), a group of researchers have been working in collaboration with the Portland Water Bureau to address these questions, revealing a complex interaction between land use patterns, temperature change, and water consumption. The results begin to describe mechanisms for improving water conservation through land use planning practices, and opportunities for increasing the coordination between land and water planning. This report summarizes the findings of recent research and aims to expand our understanding of planning as a tool for urban water conservation.


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