Guest Column: Commissioner Adair is wrong about Arnold irrigation project

May 24, 2023
Guest Column: Commissioner Adair is wrong about Arnold irrigation project

By Mike Hayes

Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair’s recent actions have raised concerns about her commitment to the stewardship of our county. Her flip-flopping decision on the Arnold Irrigation District’s water conservation project exposes questionable priorities and political motivations.

As a community member and steward of the land, I have personally witnessed the importance of efficient water delivery for our farms. In 2018, we experienced the loss of our property canal and the installation of irrigation piping — a decision driven by the realization that feeding the farm held far greater value than any appeal the canal might have had, so we paid for it as stewards of the land. With over 50 years of experience, my family understands the significance of cleaner and more reliable water sources for sustaining our agricultural practices.Initially, Adair showed support for converting the open canal to a closed pipe— a project aimed at conserving water, increasing summer allotments for farmers, and bolstering the water level of the Deschutes River in winter. It was a crucial initiative addressing the water needs of our agricultural community and safeguarding our valuable resources.However, Adair’s sudden reversal and opposition to the project raise serious doubts about her commitment to the county’s well-being. Citing concerns about project costs and its impact on properties near the canal, Adair disregards the greater goal of water conservation and its long-term benefits for our agricultural sector.

Adair’s argument, emphasizing the project’s cost over water savings, is shortsighted in the face of a historic drought. Every drop of water counts, and it is disheartening to see a county commissioner prioritize the potential impact on property values over securing a reliable water supply for our farms.What further raises concerns is Adair’s alignment with a grassroots group opposing the project and her appeal to U.S. Representative Cliff Bentz for support. Bentz himself recognizes the pipeline’s importance for the agricultural sector and the Deschutes Basin’s economy. Adair’s decision to side against the project seems motivated by securing votes, knowing that a 2-1 approval by county commissioners will ensure its progression.

Commissioner Adair’s actions demonstrate a prioritization of votes and political considerations over the stewardship of the county. Her flip-flopping decision-making and alignment with opposition groups undermine the progress and long-term sustainability of our agricultural sector. During this historic drought, when water conservation is paramount, it is disheartening to witness a county commissioner prioritize personal gains over the needs of our community.Deschutes County deserves leaders dedicated to its true stewardship—individuals who prioritize the well-being of our agricultural community over short-term political gains. It is time for Commissioner Adair to reassess her priorities, reconsider the importance of water conservation, and act in the best interests of our county. The success of our agricultural sector and the long-term health of our county depend on it.

The personal loss of our property canal in 2018 serves as a poignant reminder of the need for sustainable irrigation practices that prioritize efficient water delivery to our farms. The appeal of a canal’s landscaping pales in comparison to the dire consequences of water distribution inefficiencies. We must not forget that no value of a home is more valuable than the water we deliver to our farms. It is high time for Commissioner Adair to recognize this truth and work towards the betterment of our county, rather than focusing on securing votes for her political aspirations.

In conclusion, Commissioner Adair’s recent actions and decision-making process raise serious doubts about her dedication to the stewardship of Deschutes County. Her political calculations, evident in her flip-flopping stance on the Arnold Irrigation District’s water conservation project, indicate a prioritization of votes over the well-being of our community. As concerned citizens, it is crucial that we hold our elected officials accountable and demand true stewardship from those entrusted with the well-being of our community.

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