Next phase approaches for Tumalo Irrigation District piping

October 3, 2015
Next phase approaches for Tumalo Irrigation District piping

Construction of a 7½ -foot pipe is expected to begin in December

By Ted Shorack

The Tumalo Irrigation District is moving forward with the next phase in an ongoing piping project aimed at conserving water.

The district will begin taking bids from contractors Tuesday for the $2.1 million project to pipe about 3,400 feet of the Tumalo Feed Canal. The canal stretches from Tumalo Creek to Upper Tumalo Reservoir.

The entire piping project of 11.9 miles of main canal is expected to return about 20 cubic feet per second of water to Tumalo Creek once completed. The 7.5-foot diameter pipe will retain water that has leaked in past years from the porous canals.

Ken Rieck, the irrigation district manager, said Friday that only about 60 percent of the water diverted reaches farmers, ranchers and other water rights holders.

The rest of that water is lost mainly through seeping out the bottom of the canal, Rieck said. “There’s a lot of water being lost. Our goal is get as close to 100 percent efficiency as possible.”

The fourth phase will begin where the third phase left off at Tyler and Johnson roads northwest of Bend. The Tumalo district plans for construction to begin in December and be completed by April before the irrigation season begins.

The district diverts water for short periods during the winter to fill ponds for livestock. The district is planning a “stock run” Nov. 16 to 20 before construction of the new pipe segment begins.

The next phase of the project is part of the district’s long-range goal to eventually pipe all 80 miles of its canal, laterals and ditches.

“We’ve been pushing to conserve water for 15 years now,” Rieck said.

The district has partnered with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the city of Bend and the Deschutes River Conservancy during the piping project.

The announcement of the next phase comes as the Bureau of Reclamation and Deschutes River basin irrigation districts, including TID, face a potential lawsuit from two environmental groups. The Center for Biological Diversity and WaterWatch of Oregon plan to sue over Oregon spotted frog habitat.

Irrigation districts in Central Oregon have worked on the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan for several years to address habitat restoration for steelhead, bull trout and the spotted frog.

The Tumalo Irrigation District plans eventually to pressurize irrigation pipes that will be used to distribute water and negate the need for pumps. The district decided against pursuing hydropower as part of canal piping.

The Central Oregon Irrigation District, which manages irrigation water supplies northeast of Bend and around Redmond, piped about 2.5 miles of the Pilot Butte Canal in 2012 at Juniper Ridge and created a hydropower plant to harness energy.

The second phase of the COID project sought a Deschutes County code change. The application has since been withdrawn by the irrigation district. That portion of proposed piping received heavy opposition from property owners along the canal.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,

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