Water Conservation Program:
Permanent Streamflow Protection


Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID) manager, Marc Thalacker, explaining how the double pipes now carrying water through the TSID Main Canal will conserve enough water to restore 3.8 million gallons per day to Whychus Creek.


The DRC permanently conserves water through two methods: piping and lining canals and on-farm efficiency projects.

Nearly 90% of the streamflow from the Deschutes River in Bend is diverted through irrigation canals during the irrigation season which typically runs from April through October. The diversions cause a dramatic reduction of streamflow (more than 1500 cubic feet per second) in the Middle Deschutes, defined as the reach between Bend and Lake Billy Chinook.

The porous, volcanic soil characteristic of this high desert region causes approximately 50% of the water that is diverted from the river in irrigation canals to seep into the ground before it reaches the farm. As a result, irrigation districts need to divert twice the amount of water as they need to serve their patrons – an extremely inefficient and antiquated system. By piping or lining the canals, the water that is currently lost to seepage can be conserved and only half as much water needs to be diverted from the Deschutes River.

There are eight irrigation districts that serve the water needs of their patrons by diverting water from the Deschutes River. To date, the Deschutes River Conservancy has worked with five irrigation districts to finance large scale piping and lining of canal projects. The success of these projects has resulted in 54 cubic feet per second of permanently protected streamflow in the Deschutes River and its tributaries.

Low streamflows lead to habitat degradation, water quality problems and unhealthy habitat for fish and wildlife. Water conservation projects help to restore streamflows, improve water quality and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife.

Contact us for more information about water conservation in the Deschutes Basin.



During the winter of 2015-16, DRC assisted irrigation districts in the implementation of two water conservation/piping projects:

  • COID’s West-F Lateral piping project conserved ​​5 cfs, or about 1,600 AF per year. These water savings were used to replace Crooked River water rights in NUID, which, combined with a voluntary reduction in NUID’s irrigation rights, resulted in 6 cfs (or 2,500 AF per year) of protected instream flow in the lower Crooked River.

  • TSID’s Main Canal Pipeline Phase 6 conserved 1.33 cfs, or about 560 AF per year. With only three more phases to go, TSID has almost achieved its goal of becoming 100% piped.