State awards $12.2 million for four Deschutes Basin water conservation, flow restoration projects

November 23, 2023
State awards $12.2 million for four Deschutes Basin water conservation, flow restoration projects

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes River Conservancy announced Wednesday the allocation of $12.2 million in grant funding from the Oregon Water Resources Department for four pivotal water conservation projects around Central Oregon's Deschutes Basin.The grants, secured through the OWRD 2023 Water Project Grants and Loans funding cycle, "underscore the Deschutes Basin’s collaborative commitment to restored rivers and increased water resilience for future generations," the nonprofit said in a news release, which continues in full:Projects Funded:

  1. McKay Creek Water Rights Switch Project - $4,063,000 in funding to be used in partnership by the Deschutes River Conservancy and Ochoco Irrigation District.

This project restores 11.2 cfs of streamflow to McKay Creek, supporting the reintroduction of steelhead into the Crooked River Sub-Basin. The project will construct a pipeline and pump station to deliver stored water from Prineville Reservoir through Ochoco Irrigation District, in exchange for transferring instream privately held water rights in McKay Creek. Farmers currently using the creek for irrigation will have access to more reliable water from Ochoco Irrigation District, and the stream will see more consistent flows in the spring and summer months, restoring McKay to a more natural state.

  1. Arnold Irrigation District's Deschutes Basin Flow Restoration Project - Phase 2 - $2,903,667 granted to Arnold Irrigation District

This project will pipe four miles of open canal, restoring 12.6 cubic feet per second of critical streamflow to the Upper Deschutes River, while increasing the reliability of water supply for North Unit Irrigation District. The project is phase 1 of a four-phase system improvement plan that will restore and protect 32.5 cubic feet per second in the Upper Deschutes River. Restored streamflow will support habitat for native redband trout, and the Oregon spotted frog, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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      3. North Unit Irrigation District's Modernization and Winter Flow Augmentation Project - Segment 1-2 -$5,075,000 granted to North Unit Irrigation District

This project will pipe over 6 miles of open porous irrigation canal, conserving and legally protecting 5.3 cubic feet of water instream in the Upper Deschutes River. The project will increase water efficiency and reliability within the district, improve water quality, and support habitat for native redband trout and the Oregon spotted frog.

  1. Deschutes Basin Flow Restoration – Group 6b$2,190,726, granted to Tumalo Irrigation District

This project will pipe two miles of Tumalo Irrigation District’s open canals, restoring 0.85 cubic feet per second of streamflow to Tumalo Creek and Crescent Creek, improving habitat and water quality for redband trout and Oregon spotted frog.These grants enable significant advancements in river restoration and water infrastructure efficiency across the Deschutes River Basin. The four projects represent a basin-wide comprehensive approach to water resource management, balancing economic, environmental, and social benefits.The Deschutes River Conservancy extends its appreciation to the Oregon Water Resources Department and eagerly anticipates the successful implementation of these projects for healthier rivers and more sustainable water management into the future.About the Deschutes River Conservancy: The Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) was formed in 1996 with a mission to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes River Basin. The DRC has a multi-stakeholder board and, through collaborative efforts, has restored up to 350 CFS (equivalent to over 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools per hour) of flow in the basin with non-litigious, voluntary, and market-based programs. For more information about the DRC, visit

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