BEND, OR -- A comprehensive study on the water needs of the Upper Deschutes is nearly complete, and the preliminary results will be released at a series of public meetings, next week. Central Oregon Irrigation District General Manager Craig Horrell says it’s an important study on a resource that impacts nearly everyone in the region. "So, get some general information on conditions of the river, general information on irrigation practices, and really take a look at how we can find opportunities to make the river better, make irrigation better at a high level. It was really focused on the balance within the basin."
Horrell tells KBND News researchers found a number of options to improve conservation, usage and river health, but they're not simple fixes, "We believe that we can move water to the upper basin in the wintertime, and in return, help North Unit with some issues with the Oregon Spotted Frog. But, law does not allow us to do that. Water law just doesn’t allow you to move conserved water up the river from COID. So, it’s complicated. But, we do know that it could work. Researchers also looked at agricultural demands and water district diversions." The study also looked at agricultural demands and water district diversions. "All of those were at such a high level that now it’s finding the right opportunities to implement these projects and taking it to the next step," says Horrell. "And, the next step is: does it work economically for the districts? Can you find enough money to do these large piping projects like we’ve got going on right now? Can you sustain that level of infrastructure to keep it going?"
The $1.5 million study is funded by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Oregon Water Resources Department. Horrell says the study is about 95% complete.
Three open house meetings are scheduled for next week, allowing the public to meet with study leaders and ask questions about the preliminary data, as well as offer feedback.
Monday, March 5, 1-3 p.m.
Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic Recreation Center (SHARC)
57250 Overlook Road, Sunriver
Monday, March 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Bend Parks and Recreation District Office
799 SW Columbia Street, Bend
Tuesday, March 6, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The Inn at Cross Keys Station
66 NW Cedar Street, Madras