The Deschutes River between Bend and Lake Billy Chinook (Middle Deschutes) is a scenic gem with the potential to support world-class recreation and functioning aquatic ecosystems.
However, irrigators legally divert approximately 90% of the river's water at the City of Bend. The 10% that remains instream becomes warm and limits habitat and other uses of the river downstream of Bend. After water conservation, water transfer and leasing projects, we are in a better place than where we started 20 years ago – when up to 98% of the river’s flow was diverted, but still have a long way to go.
Improving conditions in the Deschutes River downstream from Bend requires restoring more summer streamflow. Our cooperative efforts have restored almost 135 cubic feet per second (cfs) of streamflow to this reach during the peak summer months. We are currently focused on bringing spring and fall flows up to that same level. We intend to continue these efforts and meet a 250 cfs streamflow target through additional water purchases, water conservation, and water leasing.