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Urbanization

Increased pressure on water resources, floodplain development, more pavement, erosion, pesticides, toxic metals, sewage overflows, stormwater runoff from industrial and urban development

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Downtown Medford
Downtown Medford, photo Fred Stockwell

The Rogue Valley is one of the fastest growing regions in Oregon. People from around the country are moving to southwest Oregon to enjoy a high quality of life that is, in part, due to our beautiful forests and streams. Unfortunately, urban development harms water resources in a variety of ways, including increased use of water supplies, erosion, sedimentation, floodplain development, degradation of riparian resources, sewage overflows, waterborne pathogens, toxic metals, pesticides and stormwater runoff.


Stormwater runoff is one of the most harmful effects of urbanization as we pave over soils and streams. When it rains, water pools up on hard surfaces like driveways, roads and rooftops – it can’t soak into the ground like it would in a forest or meadow.  Instead, rain and snowmelt accumulates and runs off to the nearest storm drain or stream, lake or stretch of coastline. As more and more water collects, it causes erosion and flooding.  The runoff also carries pollutants from parking lots, streets, lawns and industrial and construction sites to our rivers, lakes, and oceans.  This polluted runoff, or stormwater, is one of the largest and fastest growing threats to U.S. and global water resources.

  • Construction and Development: Stormwater from active construction sites and new developments carries sediment and other pollutants, muddying our water, permanently damaging habitats and creating flooding problems.
  • Industrial Runoff: As stormwater runs off scrap, factory and transportation yards, it carries with it high levels of industrial pollutants to adjacent streams.
  • Urban Runoff: Urban runoff carries oil, grease and trash from roads, parking lots and driveways, heavy metals from infrastructure, and fertilizers, pesticides and pet waste from our lawns, golf courses and parks to our waters.
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