BEND, OR -- The canal piping project near Bends' Brookswood neighborhood is now in the beautification stage. Federal officials toured the site Wednesday, along with representatives from the Central Oregon Irrigation District.
COID has finished piping a 3,000-linear foot section of its main canal, in a joint three-month project with the Department of Reclamation. Parks and Recreation will soon develop biking and recreational trails in the area. During Wednesday's tour, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Department of the Interior Senior Advisor Alan Mikkelsen learned about the project and the effort to conserve water. "From fish and frogs to farmers and recreators, it all comes together right here in these types of projects," said Walden.
COID believe piping this this section of canal will save up to five cubic feet of water per second and will stabilize water levels in the Deschutes, benefiting riparian habitats for spotted frogs, salmon, and steelhead. But they say it costs roughly a million dollars per cubic foot of water saved to pipe the canal; estimates indicate the project could cost several hundred million dollars to complete over the next two to three decades. Walden says it's worth the cost, "The importance of piping these canals, what it means for the environment in Central Oregon, what it means for water management; and then you get a recreational trail out of it, as well, which for Parks and Rec, or people who want to walk or ride a bike, gives them a new opportunity in an urban setting for recreation and exercise."
Mikkelsen has toured the Klamath Basin nearly a dozen times, but this was his first trip to see Central Oregon’s system, "The Deschutes is an example of how things can and should work when people engage in collaboration and cooperation." Walden says teamwork between local, state, and federal policy makers is even more important as we learn more about the demands on our water, "They come together in the Oregon way to collaboratively figure out how to protect the environment, protect agriculture, and enhance the places where we live."