BEND, Ore. - Advancements in irrigation efficiency are on the horizon for farmers and ranchers in the Tumalo Irrigation District, pending completion of a federal environmental planning process that began last summer.
Project partners announced Monday the release of a draft Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Draft Plan-EA) that would save water and energy while enhancing stream habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
The proposed project would convert open irrigation ditches into a closed piped system, which would reduce water loss from canals by up to 48 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 4.9 billion gallons per season. A piped irrigation system would keep more streamflow in the Deschutes River and Tumalo Creek, benefiting fish and wildlife habitat.
The proposed project also would deliver water to irrigators in a safer, more efficient manner and reduce energy consumption from pumping, officials said.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has reviewed the potential impacts of the project and released a Draft Plan-EA.
NRCS and project partners will host a public meeting on Tuesday, May 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to discuss the Draft Plan-EA, answer questions about the project and collect public comments.
The meeting will take place at Cascades Academy, 19860 Tumalo Reservoir Road in Bend.
The meeting location is accessible to persons with disabilities. A request for an interpreter for the hearing impaired or for other accommodations for persons with disabilities should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting to Margi Hoffman (541) 716-6085.
The Draft Plan-EA is available for public review on the project website at: www.oregonwatershedplans.org. Printed copies of the plan are also available at the Deschutes Public Library, the Tumalo Irrigation District Office, and the USDA Redmond Service Center.
Public comments about the Draft Plan-EA may be submitted through May 22 to email@example.com or via mail to: Margi Hoffmann, Community Relations Director, Farmers Conservation Alliance, 11 3rd Street, Suite 101, Hood River, OR 97031.
After the public comment period, project partners will evaluate the comments and incorporate them into a Final Watershed Plan-EA. Once the Final Watershed Plan-EA is in place, construction may begin.
This project is a team effort between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, the Tumalo Irrigation District and the Famers Conservation Alliance to help Oregon irrigators conserve water, reduce energy consumption, increase irrigation delivery efficiency, improve public safety, and benefit in-stream habitat for threatened and endangered fish species. Project funding is being considered through the NRCS Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act.
Similar planning efforts are also underway in neighboring irrigation districts. For more information about this and other Central Oregon irrigation modernization efforts, visit www.oregonwatershedplans.org or visit the NRCS Oregon public notice webpage.