(1) Notwithstanding any provision of ORS 536.300 (Formulation of state water resources program) or 536.340 (Classification of water as to highest and best use and quantity of use), the Water Resources Commission may allow the Water Resources Department to consider an application to appropriate water for a use not classified in the applicable basin program if the use:
(a) Will be of short duration during each year;
(b) Will be for a continuous period of no longer than five years;
(c) Is largely nonconsumptive in nature and not likely to be regulated for other water rights;
(d) Is necessary to ensure public health, welfare and safety;
(e) Is necessary to avoid extreme hardship;
(f) Will provide a public benefit such as riparian or watershed improvement; or
(g) Is of an unusual nature not likely to recur in the basin, and unlikely to have been within the uses considered by the commission in classifying the uses presently allowed in the applicable basin program including but not limited to:
(A) Exploratory thermal drilling;
(B) Heat exchange;
(C) Maintaining water levels in a sewage lagoon; or
(D) Facilitating the watering of livestock away from a river or stream.
(2) A permit granted on or before January 1, 1993, for a quasi-municipal use of water shall be considered a permit for a classified use under ORS 536.340 (Classification of water as to highest and best use and quantity of use) if at the time the application was submitted or the permit was granted, the basin program identified municipal use as a classified use.
(3) The commission by rule may determine the specific uses permitted within a classified use.
(4) In making the determination under subsection (1) of this section, the commission shall evaluate whether the proposed use is consistent with the general policies established in the applicable basin program.
(5) The Water Resources Department shall process and evaluate an application allowed by the commission under subsections (1) to (4) of this section in the same manner as any other water right application, including determining whether the proposed use would result in injury to an existing water right. [1989 c.9 §1; 1993 c.591 §1; 1999 c.703 §1]