BEND, OR -- Central Oregon Irrigation District plans to begin piping 3,000 feet of its main canal west from the Brookswood Bridge, in southwest Bend.
COID's ShanRae Hawkins says this move will not only benefit the ecology of the Deschutes River, but also the residents of the area. "Piping canals is a really important part of the irrigation system. When we have open canal systems, we lose about 50% of the water that's coming in off the Deschutes River to evaporation and leakage. And so, by piping the canals, we're able to conserve a significant amount of water and all of these conservation efforts directly benefit the wildlife." But, conserving five cubic feet of water per second won't be the only benefit of the piping project, according to Hawkins. "The pipe is going to be buried, and we're going to build trails over the top of it, we're working with Bend Parks and Rec, and so people won't even realize that they're walking over the top of a piped canal. And so, aesthetically, it's going to be very appealing, and it's a great partnership between Bend Parks and Rec and Central Oregon Irrigation District and we're excited to have a great new trail system that really hasn't existed in the past."
Hawkins tells KBND News, "The projected start date is December to January. The process of getting the contractor lined up and getting the pipe in will really dictate when we start the process. Certainly, if we have a really heavy snowfall this winter like we had last year, it could slow the process down, but the project will be completed by the end of March of 2018 because we have to have the system back up and running in time for irrigation season which starts in April." During construcition, stock runs will not take place, and COID is working with local agriculturalists to ensure they still get the monthly water they require.
Piping this portion of the canal will cost approximately $5 million, with funding provided by a grant from the Bureau of Reclamation, a loan from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and in-kind services and cash contributions from COID.