TUMALO, OR -- Ten Oregon irrigation districts will share $30 million in new federal funding. U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) says Tumalo, Owyhee, East Fork and Ochoco Irrigation Districts will use their share of the money for piping projects, "We’re trying to, essentially, get the water out of the canals where you lose it to evaporation in the air, and you lose it to the gravel at the bottom of the canal. We’ve just got to make those delivery systems a lot more efficient."
Some of the funding comes from last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Merkley tells KBND News, "There’s a combination of infrastructure money, of community initiated project funding - those are ideas that the community came up with and said, ‘hey, help us get this inserted into a special project for Oregon in the spending bill,’ and some of the funding comes from normal annual appropriations." He adds, "We realized how precious water is and it means we have to use it incredibly efficiently. And the advantage of piping is, it both allows more deliveries to the farm but also more water to be able to stay in the river." Merkley says droughts will become more common as climate change advances, making modernization projects even more critical.