Change coming to Central Oregon irrigation districts

Bend Bulletin​​ Published June 26, 2017

Stephen Hamway


Three districts will hold public meetings in July


In July, three of Central Oregon’s irrigation districts will take a step toward modernization to develop new plans aimed at helping farmers conserve water and energy.

The Tumalo, Swalley and Central Oregon irrigation districts, three of the eight irrigation districts in the region that comprise the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, will host public meetings, each of which are focused on watershed planning within the individual district.

The board is working with the National Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to develop and fund watershed plans with the help of local farmers and the Farmers Conservation Alliance, a nonprofit based in Hood River.

“It’s water in the West, so there are a lot of groups involved,” said Tom Makowski, the National Resources Conservation Service’s assistant state conservationist for watershed resources and planning.

Makowski said the plans vary depending on the needs of each district, with each located in different portions of the Deschutes Basin. The issues range from the impact of additional pipes on residential development to their impact on Oregon spotted frog populations.

The meetings represent the first public step toward expensive system enhancement projects on each of the three systems. Makowski said the conservation service helps irrigation districts shoulder some of the design and development costs, typically around 30 to 50 percent, and provides engineers to help examine the irrigation systems.

Following the meetings and subsequent public comment period, the organizations will develop a draft watershed plan for each irrigation district. Once that process is complete, members of the public will have another opportunity to review those plans, Makowski said.

The Tumalo Irrigation District will host its public meeting at 5:30 p.m. July 6 at the Tumalo Community Church’s meeting room, at 64671 Bruce Ave. in Bend, according to the news release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Swalley Irrigation District’s meeting will be held the same evening an hour later in the same location. COID’s meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. July 10 at the Redmond Grange, according to the release.

In addition to submitting formal comments during the meetings, members of the public can provide written comments by mail or email for two weeks after each meeting.


Shon RaeChange coming to Central Oregon irrigation districts