Deschutes Basin irrigation districts prepare to curtail water due to drought

July 6, 2023
Deschutes Basin irrigation districts prepare to curtail water due to drought

The higher-than-normal snowpack in Oregon this year isn’t translating to more irrigation water. And that means Deschutes Basin irrigation districts are preparing to curtail water as early as mid-July due to reduced natural flow on the Deschutes River.The Deschutes Basin Board of Control (DBBC) says the majority of Deschutes and Crook counties remain in severe drought, according to the U.S drought monitor.

“While recent rainfall has provided some relief, the long-term recovery requires several years of above-average precipitation,” Jeremy Giffin, Deschutes Basin Watermaster for the Oregon Water Resources Department, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the snowpack we achieved during the winter is not resulting in a significant snowmelt runoff translating to live flow.”

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DBBC said Arnold, Tumalo, Central Oregon and Lone Pine irrigation districts are planning to adjust flows.

Irrigators are being asked to plan ahead for potential water supply shortages during the summer months and implement water conservation measures now.

The frequency and intensity of these drought events pose extraordinary difficulties for farmers, fish, wildlife, and community members,” DBBC President Craig Horrell said in a statement. “We continue to focus on replacing leaky, open canals with closed pipes, allowing water saved from seepage below and evaporation above to support agricultural needs and contribute to the preservation of our river and wildlife.”

DBBC says it comprises eight irrigation districts which provide water to over 7,600 farms and ranches, local cities, parks, and schools.

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