May 8, 2017
Last week, Congress approved a large “omnibus” appropriations bill for nearly all government activities for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations section of the bill, co-authored by Agriculture Subcommittee Ranking Member Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), includes $150 million for water conservation, flood protection, fish and wildlife restoration and other water-related projects, which meet specific criteria.
Deschutes Basin irrigation districts will be eligible to compete for these funds to continue implementing their successful water conservation and fish and wildlife restoration projects. This federal program, which requires a 50% cost-share, will be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Deschutes Basin Board of Control, which represents eight major irrigation districts, has been working with Oregon’s Congressional delegation, led by Senator Merkley, for several years to secure a viable, cost-share for their projects. This is the first major appropriation for these voluntary, collaborative conservation and restoration projects. Congress will have to approve the omnibus legislation, and the President will have to sign it into law, before the funds become available later this year.
Please call Mike Britton, President, Deschutes Basin Board of Control, if you have any questions about this appropriation or the conservation/restoration projects the districts are undertaking. Mike can be reached at (541) 475-3625.