April 26, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Pipe dreams

May 18, 2010
April 26, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - Pipe dreams

Pipe dreams

Recent efforts aim to improve efficiency in the region's canals

Last modified: April 26. 2010 9:15AM PST

Irrigation districts in the region were busy this past winter. While the water was shut off for the season, the Central Oregon Irrigation District, Three Sisters Irrigation District and North Unit Irrigation District have replaced a little less than a dozen miles of open canals with buried pipe.

Because the piping projects prevent water from seeping through the fractured rocks that line the canals, the irrigation districts were able to put more water in the rivers and creeks of Central Oregon — this summer, an additional 23 cubic feet per second, or around 15 million gallons of water a day, will be left in area waterways, said Andy Fischer with the Deschutes River Conservancy.

That's about equivalent to the average flow in Whychus Creek during the summer.

More water means better habitat for fish and other aquatic life. And the winter's piping projects were a big push toward restoring river flows in the Deschutes River Basin, said Tod Heisler, director of the river conservancy.

“The volume of water in the Deschutes now that's permanently protected is going up significantly this summer,” Heisler said. “It's very gratifying.”

The challenge now, he said, is to keep up momentum and replace additional miles of canal with pipe, especially without the funding boost from the federal stimulus grants that many irrigation districts received last year.

But managers of the different Central Oregon irrigation districts already have plans in mind for which projects to tackle next.

— Kate Ramsayer, The Bulletin

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010


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