BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Arnold Irrigation District announced this week that it has received final federal authorization for its 12-mile canal-piping project, which should allow construction to start in the new year — but a federal lawsuit brought by opponents of the project also will continue through the courts into 2023.
Here’s the irrigation district’s announcement:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Oregon has released a Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment and a Finding of No Significant Impact for the Arnold Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project.
NRCS Oregon has determined that the project will not cause significant local, regional, or national impacts to the environment. With a completed environmental assessment in place, the project is now eligible for federal funding and may move forward into final design and construction.
The project will pipe 11.9 miles of the District’s Main Canal in four phases. Piping will begin at the eastern end of the Main Canal and stop about 1.5 miles from the District’s diversion on the Deschutes River. The project will not modify or affect the District’s existing flume. The project will improve water conservation in District-owned infrastructure; improve water supply management and delivery reliability to District patrons; increase drought resiliency; improve public safety on up to 11.9 miles of the Main Canal; and enhance streamflow in the Deschutes River.
By converting the open-ditch irrigation canal into a buried, closed-pipe system, the Arnold Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project will reduce water loss from seepage, saving an estimated 32.5 cubic feet per second of water or 11,083 acre-feet annually. Water saved from the project will pass to North Unit Irrigation District during the irrigation season for agricultural use. In return, North Unit Irrigation District will release an equal volume of water into the Deschutes River from Wickiup Reservoir during the non-irrigation season.
The project is a joint effort among NRCS Oregon, Arnold Irrigation District, Deschutes Basin Board of Control, Energy Trust of Oregon, and Farmers Conservation Alliance, in coordination with other agencies, stakeholders, and the public.
The Final EA and other supporting documents for the project are available at: oregonwatershedplans.org/arnold-id.
The project may be partially funded through the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, administered by NRCS and authorized by Public Law 83-566. Through this program, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to local organizations (project sponsors) for planning and carrying out projects that help solve natural resource and related economic problems in a specific watershed. These issues can include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and wetlands creation.