Update on the Coronavirus/COVID-19 in Oregon

In the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic, Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown has issued a series of Executive Orders, including the most recent March 23, 2020 “Stay Home, Save Lives” order. Irrigation districts and similar entities are not among businesses required to close; however, you do need to implement social distancing procedures, allow for telecommute options where feasible, and implement other precautionary measures. If there are additional orders that require further closures we will update you on those. Please be advised that guidance from the US Dept of Homeland Security on “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” implies but does not directly specify district operations, listing “Employees engaged in the…maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution.” Obviously the provision of water to food supply is essential; however, we are seeking additional clarity in the event of additional state directives. We encourage you to contact your attorney for specific questions related to employment policies during this time or compliance with applicable Executive Orders.

OWRC has modified its office operations to comply with the current EO as well as recommended CDC guidance for social distancing while continuing to deliver key services for our members. During this time we will have limited access to the office and encourage you to contact staff by email and we will get back you as soon as possible.

OWRC has compiled a list of available guidance and resources for districts responding to COVID-19 related impacts to district operations. This list will be updated as we receive additional information. For more information, visit: District COVID-19 Resources

Our partner association, Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) also has a number of valuable resources on their COVID-19 webpage, including FAQ’s about how to handle public meetings, paid leave, and other scenarios during this difficult time.

This is a challenging time for all of us, but as with all storms, we will weather it together (even if it is from a distance), and be stronger for it. Thank you for all that you continue to do on behalf of irrigated agriculture.

“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.” ~ Aesop

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