Intel pledges decade of water leasing to protect Middle Deschutes

January 30, 2019
Intel pledges decade of water leasing to protect Middle Deschutes

Irrigation diversions can dry up river in summer

The Deschutes River Conservancy announced Wednesday that its water leasing program has just secured funding from Intel Corp. that will be used to protect 81 million gallons a year in the Middle Deschutes River downstream from Bend during the peak summer irrigation season.

For over 100 years, the organization said, summer flows and water temperatures in the Middle Deschutes have been heavily impacted by upstream irrigation diversions during the hot summer months.

Intel said some of the state’s largest irrigation diversions heavily impacts the river during the summer, causing poor water quality, inadequate habitat to support healthy native trout populations, and a decline in overall river health.

The conservancy's water leasing program works collaboratively with irrigation districts and farmers to voluntarily leave their water instream for an agreed-upon period, thereby restoring flows in the river.

The Deschutes River Conservancy said its program restores over 14 billion gallons of water per year (60 cubic feet per second) to the Deschutes River Basin, and 30 percent of the summer flows in the Middle Deschutes.

"Intel’s generous long-term commitment will help the Deschutes River Conservancy move closer to its instream restoration goal of 250 cubic feet per second," the announcement of Intel's 10-year pledge of support stated.

A conservancy spokeswoman said Intel has a policy of not disclosing the dollar amounts involved in such investments.

Water is essential to manufacturing semiconductors at Intel, and over the last two decades, the corporation has conserved billions of gallons of water and returned approximately 80 percent of their water use back to their communities through sustainable water management efforts, investments and partnerships.

Now with a broader focus, Intel is working toward restoring 100 percent of its global water use by 2025.

In addition to the Deschutes River, Intel is supporting conservation groups working on the Price River (Utah), Lower Salt River (Arizona), Verde River (Arizona), Willamette River (Oregon), Tualatin River (Oregon), Colorado River (Utah), and the Rio Grande (Colorado & New Mexico). Additionally, the program is supporting the restoration of critical habitat for migratory birds in Calfornia's Central Valley.

“We are proud to support the Deschutes River Conservancy in their important work restoring the Deschutes River Basin. Their passion and expertise are helping to provide lasting and impactful benefits to our ecosystem and preserve the natural beauty of Oregon’s rivers.” – Fawn Bergen, Global Water Stewardship Manager, Intel Corporation

“The Deschutes River Conservancy is very excited about this new partnership with Intel Corporation and about their commitment to corporate sustainability. Secure funding over multiple years is essential to the long-term sustainability of the DRC’s water leasing program and to the Deschutes River. ” – Genevieve Hubert, Program Manager, Deschutes River Conservancy

About the Deschutes River Conservancy: Twenty-three years ago, the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) formed with a mission to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes River Basin. The DRC specializes in programs and projects that employ voluntary, market-based incentives to restore flows. The DRC is non-litigious and serves as leaders and facilitators of basin-wide water management conversations. The board is comprised of key private and public stakeholders in the basin. The organization has worked with eight irrigation districts and over 200 landowners to restore over 200 cubic feet per second of streamflow to the basin’s rivers and streams.

About Intel in Oregon: Since establishing operations in the state in 1974, Intel has invested more than $40 billion in Oregon to develop advanced high-tech manufacturing capacity. With 20,000 employees across four campuses west of Portland in Washington County, Intel develops and manufactures microprocessors that power data centers and hundreds of millions of smart and connected devices worldwide. For more information on Intel's water restoration efforts:

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An aerial view of a body of water.