March 8, 2011 – Bend Bulletin – Area experts to speak with Prineville residents on water issues

This article was published on: 03/9/11 12:00 AM

Area experts to speak with Prineville residents on water issues

By Erik Hidle / The Bulletin
Published: March 08. 2011 4:00AM PST

Two Crook County water experts will talk to residents Wednesday morning about the past, present and future of water resources in the Prineville area as government officials continue to find ways to keep the county hydrated.

Mike Kasberger, manager of the Ochoco Irrigation District, and Bob Main, a former Central Oregon Watermaster, will speak at 7 a.m. at Meadow Lakes Restaurant, 300 S.W. Meadowlakes Dr. in Prineville.

The Ochoco Irrigation District primarily covers Prineville and serves about 20,000 acres of land in Crook County.

“We’re going to talk about how we, the Ochoco Irrigation District, operate,” Kasberger said. “We’re going to talk about how we operate in regards to fish, recreation, farming and habitat conservation and the legislation involved with that.”

Kasberger said he plans to update attendees on efforts to reintroduce steelhead populations above the Pelton Dam — a project that has introduced more than 1 million baby fish into the area over the past three years.

Also, he plans on giving a “Crooked River 101” talk that will explain some of the challenges the area is facing.

Main said he will speak on the history of water in the area, saying the story is “very interesting and filled with heroes and villains.”

“Most people think of water as just being there,” Main said. “You turn on your tap and it appears. But it didn’t always.

“The history is interesting because we need to be aware of where we came from so we know how to get where we are going.”

Water issues are not new to the area.

City of Prineville Engineer Eric Klann explained in an interview with The Bulletin in January that the main problem the city is facing is minimal groundwater resources, meaning wells are either extremely low in flow or completely dry.

Underground map

Klann said he is developing a map of where underground “streams” are located that could be tapped to develop more abundant wells.

Klann also said a new lagoon and wetland system for wastewater disposal adopted by the City Council in January will help to keep the consumptive rate of water in the area low.

Also in the works to help the area is legislation from U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River.

According to a spokesman, Walden continues to work on introducing a bill to move a misplaced environmental boundary on Bowman Dam that would allow for the release of more water from the dam and could help improve the city’s access to water.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, have also voiced support of such a plan.

Erik Hidle can be reached at 541-617-7837 or at

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