BEND, OR -- Farmers and ranchers have been warned of impending water curtailments. The Deschutes Basin Board of Control announced last week that dwindling levels on the Deschutes will mean lower water availability.
Jeff Larkin, a farmer and Central Oregon Irrigation District Board member, tells KBND News he’s surprised to see the decrease so soon after the wet winter and spring. “With the snowpack and the rains that we had everybody had a lot of confidence that we would be able to stretch out farther than what it is now, but the live flow in the river is not lying that’s for sure. So, it’s just something we have to deal with,” he says irrigators relying on live flows will see a water shortage, while others with stored water will need tap into those sources, “The short-term solution is just water management, making sure that your irrigation system - whether its flood or pressurized - is just as efficient as you can possibly make it.”
The eight irrigation districts within the Deschutes Basin will get less water, starting this month.
“With just the drought conditions that we’ve been going through that there’s some years that we’ve had good rain, like we did this year…I got my first cut into hay with only irrigating my hayfields. That’s where it’s going to probably end up having to go if this continues on year after year. People are needing to get their systems a little bit more efficient and they’ll be able to stretch their water and be fine,” Larkin says.
The Central Oregon Irrigation District says it is committed to long term solutions for efficient water management, including piping canals.