Water improvement project in the Fifteenmile Creek Basin moves forward with support from Google.org

New $100,000 grant to benefit farmers, wildlife in Wasco County

THE DALLES, Ore. – Today Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, announced a $100,000 grant to the Wy’East Resource Conservation and Development Area Council to support Wasco County farmers and wildlife in the Fifteenmile Creek basin. The grant will go toward the council’s work with the Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to increase water levels of Fifteenmile Creek which will better regulate the stream’s temperatures protecting aquatic species and ensure consistent water flow for area farmers.

“This work will make our community stronger, and more resilient in the face of climate change,” said Shilah Olson, District Manager of the Wasco SWCD. “We’re grateful to a number of funders including Google, for helping us take these needed steps to protect Fifteenmile Creek and everything it supports.”  
The SWCD, Wy’East Resource Conservation and Development Area Council, and the Fifteenmile Watershed Council, along with many agency partners and stakeholders, have developed a solution to address the creek’s low water levels in the summer months which raises the water’s temperature, harming and killing aquatic species and limiting water for agriculture. This includes protected species such as the Mid-Columbia River Steelhead, which is listed as part of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Additional funding from Google.org will allow the organizations to build a small diversion and testing site which will divert and store water from Fifteenmile Creek in the winter to be treated underground and then returned to the creek in the summer to increase water flow.

Lower water temperatures will improve conditions for fish, while also becoming a steady water source for farmers to irrigate their land. The Fifteenmile Watershed Council and the Wasco County SWCD confirmed the feasibility of the diversion in 2021. The small-scale pilot project and testing site will be built approximately six miles upstream from Dufur.

“We understand how important it is to protect the region’s natural resources and the impact that has on wildlife and agriculture,” said Ian Goodhew, Google’s Regional Head of Government and External Relations. “We’re proud that our contributions can help support the growth and sustainability of Wasco County.”

Google operates data centers in The Dalles and in November announced continued growth in the region that will include the cleanup of a former Superfund site, while also making progress toward the company’s ambitious global water stewardship and carbon-free energy goals. Since 2006, Google has contributed more than $2 million to organizations in Wasco County reducing carbon impacts, supporting education, and expanding access to the internet and regional economic growth.  

Google.org, Google’s philanthropy, brings the best of Google to help solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges combining funding, innovation, and technical expertise to support underserved communities and provide opportunity for everyone. We engage nonprofits and social enterprises who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a better world, faster — and we believe in leveraging technology and applying scalable data-driven innovation to move the needle.