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Federal grant to help C.O. irrigators swap water, boost flows

Second WaterSMART grant awarded to Warm Springs

BEND, Ore. - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $400,000 grant to the Central Oregon Irrigation District. In partnership with the Deschutes River Conservancy, the funds will help finance the development of a WaterSMART marketing strategy, an innovative water transactions program to facilitate the trading of water between irrigation districts and boost stream flows in the Deschutes River. 
 
The project will build on extensive collaborative work currently underway by COID, the DRC and partners in the Upper Deschutes Basin to restore flows and provide increased water security for basin stakeholders, according to an irrigation district news release issued Thursday. 
 
By 2050, the Deschutes Basin has a projected supply-demand gap of 230,000 acre-feet for the area’s agricultural, environmental, and municipal needs. Additionally, the reclassification of the Oregon spotted frog as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act has accelerated the need to restore flows in the Upper Deschutes River. 
 
The development of a water marketing strategy will allow water to move between irrigation districts and to the river, increasing reliability for irrigators, improving flows and protecting future needs, those involved said.
 
“Our role as water managers and stewards of the Deschutes River is to ensure not only that our region’s environmental, agriculture and recreational water needs are met today, but that they are protected and sustained decades from now,” said Craig Horrell, district manager of COID. “This WaterSmart grant allows us to develop programs that allow for a more efficient movement of water between users and the river, while accelerating our existing conservation efforts.”
 
According to the Reclamation announcement, water marketing strategy grants are used to conduct planning activities in developing a water marketing strategy in which buyers and sellers can lease, sale or exchange their water rights. 
 
The aim of the WaterSMART program is to identify strategies that ensure current and future generations will have sufficient amounts of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation and ecosystem health.
 
COID was one of nine projects to be funded in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The $400,000 award will cover half of the $800,000 total projected cost. 
 
There also was another Central Oregon WaterSMART grant, of $172,062, to Warm Springs Water and Power Enterprises. It covers half the cost of a project to develop a water marketing strategy for leasing water rights held by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation to the North Unit Irrigation District.

Officials said the tribe's off-reservation water rights in Lake Billy Chinook can provide another water supply source to the North Unit, potentially dropping deliveries from the Upper Deschutes and Crooked rivers by up to 72,000 acre-feet a year.
 
About Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID)
Established in 1918, Central Oregon Irrigation District “COID” is a Municipal Corporation of the State of Oregon. The District’s mission is to provide a reliable supply of water to 3,500 patrons throughout Bend, Redmond, Powell Butte and Alfalfa through its system of more than 700 miles of canals. COID delivers water to each patron so all can work, play and thrive, while at the same time ensuring the needs of future patrons can be met through conservation and more efficient delivery methods.
 
About the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC)
The Deschutes River Conservancy was founded in 1996 as collaborative, multi-stakeholder 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the mission to restore streamflow and improve water quality in the Deschutes Basin. The Board of Directors is comprised of key public and private interests including federal, state, local government, irrigation, development, hydro-power, recreation, tribes, and environment. www.deschutesriver.org

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