Program Updates: Water Conservation, Steelhead Habitat, and Water Leasing

July 1, 2024
Program Updates: Water Conservation, Steelhead Habitat, and Water Leasing

Increasing Steelhead Habitat in the Crooked

We're excited to share that the Oregon Water Resources Department has contributed significant funding for our McKay Creek Water Rights Switch project. McKay Creek, a tributary of the Crooked River, plays a critical role in the life cycle of migrating SteelheadTrout. By transferring irrigation rights from the creek to be managed by Ochoco Irrigation District, we're restoring the creek's natural flows while providing more reliable water sources for local farmers. This strategic move creates amore sustainable balance that benefits both fish and farmers.


Strategic WaterConservation and Measurement Projects Funded

The Deschutes RiverConservancy is leading the efforts to secure the necessary funding and agreements for essential basin-wide conservation projects. Our efforts continue to expand opportunities and implement work on canal piping, on-farm efficiency improvements, and water metering, enhancing larger flow restoration goals. As these crucial components of our conservation strategy come together, we anticipate further increases in water conservation across irrigation districts. This integrated approach allows for greater flexibility in water management and distribution between districts, helping to improve and protect flows in critical areas like the Upper Deschutes. 


Making Waves with WaterLeasing

Each year, our AnnualWater Leasing Program is instrumental in maintaining the flow of the Deschutes River and its tributaries. In 2023, we successfully leased close to 65 cubic feet per second, and for 2024, we're on track to increase that to 80 CFS—equivalent to nearly 39,000 gallons per minute. This program is crucial for supporting consistent water levels in key areas such as the Middle Deschutes, Whychus Creek, and Tumalo Creek, especially during the dry months.

McKay Creek, a tributary of the Crooked River.

The Middle Deschutes, where DRC's Annual Water Leasing Program contributes up to 25% of the flows in the summer.
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An aerial view of a body of water.