Collected and curated media Articles about the water and rivers in the western united states
Fallowing fields has become an unwanted habit for farmers in Jefferson County. Phil Fine has been doing it three years running. Fine, who grows primarily carrot and grass seed plus some alfalfa and barley, is leaving a quarter of his fields this year unplanted, or fallow, because of water restrictions caused by prolonged drought. He did the same last year and the year before that.
The details of Bend’s recently announced water curtailment alert are straightforward and don’t require anyone in Bend to do anything differently. The “Stage 1” alert is just to remind people to be responsible about water use.
There was a time in Central Oregon when progress was measured by jobs, by if the railroad would come through town and by developing canals to move water out of the Deschutes River and on to farmland. Jobs still very much matter. The railroad now plays a lesser role. The view of the river has changed.
The city of Bend is asking residents to be responsible with using their water. In light of a drought that has been declared in Deschutes County, Bend City Manager Eric King has declared a stage 1 water curtailment alert for the city of Bend.
Cool temperatures and consistent rainfall in recent weeks has provided some relief to Central Oregon farmers during the first stages of the growing season. But authorities warn that recent rain may not be enough to stave off water shortages later in the year.
Irrigation districts across Central Oregon are seeking assistance from the state to deal with prolonged drought conditions that have kept reservoirs at historic lows in recent years and forced farmers to keep thousands of acres of land fallow due to water shortages.
In 12 years as manager of the North Unit Irrigation District, Mike Britton said this summer could be the toughest he’s seen by far. Low precipitation and rapidly melting snow in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked river basins mean natural stream flows will be just 19% to 78% of average through September, leaving farmers and ranchers with less water for crops and livestock.
Low precipitation and rapidly melting snow in the Upper Deschutes and Crooked river basins of Central Oregon mean natural stream flows will be just 19-78% of average through September, leaving farmers and ranchers with less water for crops and livestock.
Water is being released from Wickiup Reservoir at rates that are higher than average due to warm spring weather that is creating a need for more water by irrigators.
Flows on the popular fishery below Bowman Dam near Prineville are expected to increase from 330 cubic feet per second to 550 cfs, according to Brett Hodgson, a Bend-based fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Groundwater will be regulated less strictly under the U.S. Supreme Court’s new interpretation of the Clean Water Act compared to an earlier legal standard affecting several Western states.
When Peter Keane started running mountaineering tours in the Cascades 30 years ago he helped climbers summit peaks well into August. These days he has to stop running his trips in early July due to the glaciers melting away in the summer sun. It’s simply too dangerous to trek up the melting glaciers due to loose rock and snow.
A recent guest column author argued that the solution for water shortages in the Deschutes River Basin is large canal piping projects for irrigation districts funded by the public, instead of much cheaper water market solutions. What he completely ignores is the cost of the large pipes, around $1 billion. In this economic crisis that is absurd, a pipe dream. It will cost too much and take too long. Climate change, threatened fish and wildlife, degraded rivers and farmers without water security compel us to act quickly to solve this problem.
“Frog, fish populations under threat in the Upper Deschutes,” reported on the dire shape of the Upper Deschutes river (The Bulletin, March 30). For decades, the Upper Deschutes has had unnaturally high flows in the summer when water is released from reservoirs to meet irrigation demands. Summer flows are three times the natural levels and have scoured the banks, widened the channel, and filled spawning beds with silt (as well as Mirror Pond). In the winter, the reservoirs are refilled, and the river is reduced to unnaturally low flows, exposing the riverbed to freezing temperatures, and killing fish, aquatic plants, insects, and amphibians.
Recent snowstorms have lifted the state's overall average snowpack to 109% of normal as of April 8, compared to 91% of normal at the beginning of March, according to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
With the mountain snowpack running above average in most places, Morgan is confident that 2020 will be the second straight year without a drought.
For decades Rob Rastovich relied on flood irrigation to water the hay fields on his family-owned ranch outside Bend. The system was archaic and wasted large amounts of water, which ran off the edge of his 200-acre plot.
Farmers are known for adapting. We adapt to bad weather, water scarcity, low market prices, labor availability and cumbersome regulations. Refusal to adapt could result in devastating outcomes. We adapt; that’s what farmers do.
Below the bridge, the banks of the Deschutes River were visibly shorn off from summertime high water flows. The channel was wider than its historic width, they said. And unnatural, isolated winter ponds caused by seasonal low flows did not appear to provide suitable habitat for fish and other wildlife.
Two Deschutes County landowners have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Tumalo Irrigation District from replacing open canals with underground pipes to conserve water.