Editorial: An important effort to help Tumalo Creek

December 14, 2013
Editorial: An important effort to help Tumalo Creek

No matter what you think of the city of Bend’s plans to improve its Bridge Creek water facility, we suspect nearly everyone can agree on this: Improving water flows in Tumalo Creek is a good thing.

That’s why the related effort of the city and Tumalo Irrigation District is so important.

The irrigation district’s rights to water in the creek go back to 1904, relatively late for this area. Its youth has been a headache — in particularly dry years the district sometimes has been unable to deliver all the water its users expected as a result. Meanwhile, an aging water delivery system meant that as much as 75 percent of what the district took from the creek was lost before it ever reached farmland.

Piping has helped change that grim picture. The district began piping the Bend Feed Canal more than a decade ago, and as the project progressed more water stayed in the creek. When work on piping the district’s Tumalo Feed Canal is complete, it will permanently protect an additional 11.8 cfs in Tumalo Creek.

That’s good for fish and for the Deschutes River, into which the creek flows.

Tumalo Creek water is cold, and it helps lower the temperature of the Deschutes River. Cold water, meanwhile, is good for the redband trout, as well as for the anadromous fish, among them salmon, that call the Deschutes home.

City officials have been working with the district this year to find ways the city can help restore Tumalo Creek flows. Money is, of course, the most important thing for the district, but it has a selling job to do as well, and the city can help with that.

It must persuade both its water users and the federal government — which supplies much of the money for piping — that forgoing building a power plant as part of piping is actually energy efficient and good for the creek.

In fact, delivering pressurized water to farms, as the district hopes to do, is a winner all around. Farmers get water that will be cheaper for them to use because they won’t have to pump it. Lovers of Tumalo Creek and the Deschutes will see fuller streams and colder water, things that are good for fish and wildlife.

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