This article was published on: 03/19/12 9:57 AM
ARRA funded projects were crucial to salmon and steelhead reintroduction as well as stimulating the local economy
March 19, 2012 – Bend, Oregon – In fiscal years 2009-2011, the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) in Bend, Oregon was awarded $3,662,250 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to advance its mission of restoring streamflow and improving water quality throughout the Deschutes Basin while creating job in the local economy. The DRC is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization with a consensus-based board of directors comprised of 28 stakeholders that represent the major water related interests in the basin.
ARRA funds were used to finance two major water conservation projects, collectively restoring 27 cubic feet per second (cfs) to the middle reach of the Deschutes River in Bend and to Whychus Creek in Sisters. Both are areas that have historically suffered from critically low stream flows during the irrigation season which has been detrimental to native fish and water quality. These restoration projects were accomplished by piping 2.25 miles of Central Oregon Irrigation District’s Pilot Butte Canal and 3.7 miles of Three Sisters Irrigation District’s Main Canal. Water conserved from these two projects was used to create new water rights through the State of Oregon, permanently restoring local streamflows. The water right issued for the middle Deschutes River for 19.6 cfs constitutes the largest single flow enhancement project on the Deschutes River to date.
According to Tod Heisler, Executive Director of the DRC, “These federal stimulus dollars came at a critical time when restored flows are urgently needed to improve habitat for reintroduced steelhead and salmon. Beyond benefits for fish, the ARRA-funded projects stimulated our local economy, created jobs, paved the way for green energy, and improved the economic viability of agriculture in Central Oregon. These multi-benefit projects were precisely the correct way for Reclamation to invest its scarce resources, and we are extremely grateful to Reclamation for their participation in this important work.”
About the Deschutes River Conservancy
The DRC is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation that was founded by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and local irrigation districts. In the past sixteen years, the DRC has built a strong foundation for collaborative work in the Deschutes Basin. The organization’s mission is to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin. The DRC objectives are to meet or exceed state water quality standards and to restore the natural hydrograph to the extent environmentally, socially and economically feasible in the Deschutes River and its tributaries. The Deschutes River Conservancy is a nationally recognized leader in river restoration and has set the bar for achieving results through collaboration. www.deschutesriver.org
Scott McCaulou, Program Director