There are several regional water supply issues that pose threats to the Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek watersheds:
- High water loss to Irrigation District customers and water users due to an aging and increasingly inefficient water delivery infrastructure.
- Water scarcity due to full appropriation, if not over-appropriation, of water in Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek, which threatens the reliability of the irrigation water supply for Talent Irrigation District, Medford Irrigation District, and Rogue River Valley Irrigation District.
- Degraded water quality and water quantity for anadromous salmonids and other species.
- Potential water quality and reliability issues for Medford municipal water customers due to degraded water quality at the Robert Duff Water Treatment Facility on the Rogue River during summer months.
- High temperature discharges to the Rogue River from the Medford Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility.
- Decreased aesthetic and recreation values due to increasing stream and river withdrawals and decreasing reservoir levels.
In the late 1990s, a diverse group of local leaders and stakeholders came together to respond to these issues. Their efforts to create a stable, long-term water supply system for the Rogue Valley have evolved into the proposed water management program known as the WISE Project.