Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan

The eight irrigation districts that serve Central Oregon and the City of Prineville have committed over twelve years to working with local municipalities, state and federal agencies, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and non-governmental organizations to improve our collective irrigation network in a way that better serves our community, conserves water, and improves fish and wildlife habitat.

On December 31, 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the completion of the Deschutes River Basin Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP is a collaborative strategy to share water resources in the Deschutes Basin, covering irrigation and related water management operations while enhancing fish and wildlife habitat.

The HCP represents the best way to ensure productive, long-term results, on a schedule intended to keep agriculture producers in our region solvent. The purpose of the HCP is not to solve all the water issues in the Deschutes Basin. Rather, conservation measures in the HCP are designed to minimize and mitigate impacts to species listed under the Endangered Species Act, where such impacts may result from the storage, release, diversion, and return of irrigation water by the Districts and City of Prineville. Our efforts have been inclusive and science-based, and we are committed to implementing long-term solutions that not only address the needs of listed species but also benefit our region’s farmers and communities.

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Water Conservation

Irrigation canals dug over a century ago out of the hard, black basalt throughout Central Oregon still function as reliable, low-maintenance conveyance facilities. But they’re also prone to seepage. The Districts are working on irrigation modernization plans to conserve water. The DBBC is working with several groups on conservation including The Farmers Conservation Alliance. Click here for more information

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Fish & Wildlife Habitat Restoration

Nearly every diversion operated directly by the eight Districts includes a protective fish screen that meets state and federal standards. These screens prevent small fish from entering irrigation canals, enabling them to safely move downstream. In addition to fish screens several of our diversions have fish ladders as well to allow fish passage up and down stream and out of the irrigation canals.

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Hydropower Generation

A new trend among irrigation districts is the construction of small hydropower facilities inside their existing irrigation systems. Renewable energy generated by rushing water is one of the earliest innovations of irrigation use, but it is becoming economically feasible for even small districts to employ this innovative technique and produce clean electricity.

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Investing in Rural Infrastructure

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