What we do

Streamflow Restoration

A river isn’t a river without flow; but even when flow is restored, our Central Oregon streams aren’t truly healthy unless they carry cold, clean water.

The Deschutes River Conservancy addresses both needs. We work with many partners, from state and federal agencies to Conservation Districts and Watershed Councils to irrigation districts and landowners, to identify the most strategic approaches to improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin. Whether it’s in the Crooked River, Whychus Creek, Trout Creek, the mainstem Deschutes, or elsewhere, DRC works to increase the health of our waters.

Flow restoration in its own right often helps mitigate many water quality concerns. More stream flow buffers the effects of warmer water temperatures, provides deeper pools, supports healthy riparian areas, and maintains the connection to submerged aquatic vegetation and shady reaches for fish and aquatic life to thrive. Increased flows can also help reduce concentrations of otherwise harmful amounts of nutrients and other pollutants. The Deschutes River Conservancy also helps to improve water quality by facilitating better management practices.

Working with our partners and landowners, we enable ranchers and farmers to upgrade to more efficient practices to apply their water, which results in less water and fertilizer use, and reduced f runoff that can carry dirt, manure, and other on-field chemicals into our streams.

Water for Storage

In the winter, water is stored in the reservoirs for the irrigation season. This seasonal reservoir storage significantly reduces the streamflow in the Upper Deschutes River, defined as the reach from Wickiup Reservoir to Bend.

Water for Irrigation

Nearly 90% of the streamflow from the Deschutes River in Bend is diverted through irrigation canals during the irrigation season. The diversions cause a dramatic reduction of streamflow in the Middle Deschutes, defined as the reach between Bend and Lake Billy Chinook.

Water for Recreation

Thousands of people visit the Lower Deschutes River each year to enjoy its world class fishing, exhilarating whitewater, and spectacular landscape. Many of them are unaware of the issues facing the Upper and Middle reaches of the river.​

An aerial view of a body of water.