Where does the water go?

Where water goes and unmet needs.jpg

Nearly 90% of the streamflow from the Deschutes River in Bend is typically can be diverted through irrigation canals during the irrigation season (April - October)

During the summer months, these diversions cause a dramatic reduction in streamflow in the river below Bend. The porous, volcanic soil characteristic of this region causes as much as 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 they need to serve their patrons. These seasonal flow disruptions to the naturally stable-flowing Deschutes River have contributed to a decline in the overall health of the river, including degraded fish habitat and poor water quality.

There are eight irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin with 'priority dates' ranging from 1899 to 1916. ‘Senior’ (older water rights) irrigation districts in Central Oregon account for nearly all the water available as live flow in the Deschutes River and its tributaries. Securing reliable water for the ‘junior’ (newer/younger water rights) irrigators of North Unit Irrigation District (Madras-area) requires the use of stored winter flows from Wickiup Reservoir.

Deschutes Basin Irrigation Districts and Priority Dates (1200 × 600 px).jpg Natural and Regulated Hydrograph.jpg