September 14, 2008 - Bend Bulletin Grant Could Help Put More Canals In Pipes

September 15, 2008
September 14, 2008 - Bend Bulletin Grant Could Help Put More Canals In Pipes

Grant could help put more canals in pipes
Swalley project may be in line for $1.4M
By James Sinks / The Bulletin
Published: September 14. 2008 4:00AM PST

SALEM — More state funds could help convert additional irrigation canals that crisscross Central Oregon from open ditches to enclosed pipes. The Bend-based Swalley Irrigation District could win a $1.4 million grant to finish piping five miles of its main canal at a Tuesday meeting of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board in Klamath Falls.

The project is the largest in Central Oregon that the board will consider; statewide, grant applications total $22.7 million, the agency said. The board doles out money dedicated to river-related projects from the Oregon Lottery. State grants previously financed two other phases of the Swalley main canal project.

When the third phase is completed, the Middle Deschutes Streamflow Restoration Project will reduce the loss of water due to evaporation and seepage from canals by an estimated 30 cubic feet per second. One cubic foot per second of water translates to 448.3 gallons per minute.

Water conservation has helped drive the canal piping — the saved water will remain in the Middle Deschutes River — but not everyone has celebrated the projects. Neighbors of the irrigation canals, in particular, have decried the loss of the scenic waterways and fear a loss of property value. The Swalley district in February prevailed in a federal lawsuit filed by 160 main canal neighbors who’d hoped to block the project.

The total cost of the third and final phase is about $2 million, said Jan Lee, the general manager of the irrigation district, which serves about 4,000 acres to the north and northwest of Bend. The district also received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The district also hopes to enclose additional lateral lines that branch from the main canal, but those would be part of future grant applications, Lee said. Competition for the state dollars is intense, she said.
Eight applications from Central Oregon, totaling $2.9 million, will be weighed by the Watershed Enhancement Board.

Other requests on the list include leasing of in-stream water for $158,000, and a $542,700 riparian and aspen grove restoration project in the North Fork Crooked River Watershed. Most of the money comes via Measure 66, which was approved by Oregon voters in 1998. That law sets aside 15 percent of lottery revenues for restoring Oregon’s salmon, watersheds and state parks, said Carolyn Devine, the agency’s spokeswoman.

Half of the funds are used to enhance watersheds and salmon habitat.
James Sinks can be reached at 503-566-2839 or at
Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2008

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