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. To conserve water, the Districts are working with the Deschutes River Conservancy and other partners to line their canals or even replace them with Large plastic or steel pipes. These conservation initiatives are a catalyst for higher instream flows beneficial for fish, wildlife and recreation, and creates opportunities for renewable hydropower development.
North Unit Irrigation District is undertaking the largest streamflow restoration initiative in Oregon’s histroy. When this project is complete, up to 220 cubic feet per second of water will be restored to the Crooked River, north of Smith Rock State Park.