Facilitation: Neskowin Water District Acquires First Portion of Watershed

February 16, 2023

The Hawk Creek Watershed surrounds Neskowin’s drinking water source.


The Neskowin Regional Water District is completing the first phase in a long-term vision of acquiring a portion of the Hawk Creek Watershed that surrounds the community’s drinking water source.

The district, with facilitation support from North Coast Land Conservancy, is purchasing approximately 50 acres of forested property from private land owners, Mike and Lana Kowalski. The land sits above the outtake for their water plant, at the confluence of Hawk Creek and an unnamed tributary.

The water district has been investigating the advantages of owning and controlling the Source Water Area (SWA) for more than 15 years, an interest that’s picked up momentum in the past five years because of changes in land ownership; concerns about the impacts of climate change on the water supply of coastal systems; and advisories from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

NCLC became involved in the project about a year ago. In a facilitation capacity, NCLC is providing a variety of administrative services, from connecting the district with an appraiser and exploring funding options to title work and writing up the deed.

“We believe the drinking watershed should be controlled by the local citizens, and in this case, the best manager is the water district,” NCLC Associate Director Jon Wickersham says. “When we can marry water protection, water security, and conservation of critical habitat together, it makes sense.”

Research shows that protecting watersheds has a range of benefits, such as lowering costs for drinking water treatment; minimizing damage from natural disasters; and increasing adjacent property values.

This acquisition is part of a larger vision: protecting the whole watershed, which spans about 1,200 acres and is divided among several private landowners.

“This is just the first phase,” Jon says, adding NCLC will continue to help facilitate the project through the upcoming phases.

This is an ongoing project! Check back for more updates.

Leave a Comment