Central Oregon has been challenged for years by a severe drought stemming from low precipitation in the Cascades. Some variation in annual precipitation is natural over multi-decade cycles, but a warming planet has deepened those cycles. Oregon’s snowpack, which drives the volume of water in the Deschutes Basin, has been declining for decades and is likely to continue doing so, state climate scientists predict.
The Deschutes Basin’s eight irrigation districts, which deliver water from the basin’s rivers to its farmers through those canals, have a key role to play in water conservation. Replacing those antiquated canals with pipes could save those loses and return over 100,000 acre-feet of water to the river, a 2019 study found.
A judge has ruled federal fishing regulators violated the Endangered Species Act when they approved commercial trolling of chinook salmon in Alaska.
There are still some around who remember what things were like in the Prineville valley before the construction of Bowman Dam was completed in 1961. Government reports from 1903 and earlier noted how small and warm and stagnant the Crooked River was in this region during the summer.
On Bend’s southern outskirts, canals and ditches are already dry due to extreme drought conditions this summer, forcing farmers to reduce their herd size or give up their farms altogether. But a conservation strategy by Arnold Irrigation District, which has supplied water to the area for 117 years, could extend the life of the irrigation season as soon as next year.
Ask a few Oregonians if their state has enough water to meet its needs and you may get some varying answers. The differing views on the question may be tilted based on where people live, or even their gender.
GOODBYE 1937 FLOW DATA: WITH CLIMATE CHANGE BPA NOW USING MOST RECENT CONDITIONS TO INFORM FUTURE PNW HYDROLOGY, POWER GENERATION ESTIMATES
For more than eight decades, BPA relied on a data set of hydrological conditions in the Pacific Northwest that stretched back to 1929 and used the 1937 water year as the baseline for determining firm power generation. However, the conditions seen in 1937, or indeed much of the first half of that 90-year record, are becoming less likely to happen again as regional climate continues to warm.
The public is currently allowed to comment on a draft Watershed Plan Environmental Assessment for the project, which will install 27.5 miles of gravity-pressurized, buried pipe along the North Unit Irrigation District’s laterals 31, 32, 34, and 43. Laterals are the ditches that deliver water to farms.
A staggering 2,600 pounds of garbage and weeds was collected this year at the annual Deschutes River Cleanup, nearly double the amount collected in 2019, which was the last time scuba divers participated.