Editorial: Pipe canals in the Arnold Irrigation District

May 22, 2023
Editorial: Pipe canals in the Arnold Irrigation District

Bulletin Editorial Board

The questions from Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair about the Arnold Irrigation District’s canal project come up about canal piping projects again and again.

They always cost a lot of money. Piping is expensive. It’s the most expensive way to save water in irrigation.The Arnold project will cost about $34 million. It might help conserve about 32 cubic feet per second of water. It’s roughly $1 million per cubic foot.

But that water will go to North Unit Irrigation District near Madras, whose farmers so desperately need it in the summer. And North Unit will, in turn, release more water from Wickiup Reservoir in the winter leading to greater flows in the Deschutes River. Badly needed too.Piping also can diminish property values. Would you rather have an irrigation canal running through your backyard or a pipe?

A canal creates a de facto creek for much of the year. It can help trees and other vegetation grow up around it.

But the most important thing of all is that water is precious in the Deschutes Basin. Piping better ensures water goes where it is intended and is not lost along the way.

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