I was recently criticized for not sufficiently valuing the economic contribution of agriculture to the Central Oregon economy. Some readers felt that the value provided by farmers justified the damage to our local rivers caused by irrigation withdrawals. I am reminded of an old quote that goes something like “we can have our own opinions but we can’t have our own facts”, so here are some facts. You can form your own opinion. I again want to stress that I am not advocating for the forced elimination of water deliveries to any water right holder. As I have written about on this blog there are affordable and relatively quick solutions that allocate water to irrigators while also partially restoring rivers. I believe it is time to implement water policies that ensure our economic vitality for the next 100 years, not that reflect the past 100.Read More »
Today the Bulletin published a column I wrote about some of the hindrances faced by landowners who would like to forgo their allocation of irrigation water and help restore the Deschutes. In short, the irrigation districts would rather keep the water in their systems. There can also be tax penalties for not irrigating in some cases. Of course, we taxpayers continue to subsidize the irrigation districts. It does not seem right to me. See below for the full column.Read More »
Wildlife News recently posted an article titled “Deschutes River–Irrigation Canal or Wild River?” written by Bend resident George Wuerthner. I believe his post is worth a thoughtful read. He makes an argument that I have been making for years about who owns public water and who should pay for it. Further, he echoes a criticism I have made of the Deschutes River Conservancy and he extends that criticism to newcomer Coalition for the Deschutes. While I am deeply sympathetic to the thrust of the article, my own views have become more nuanced. Like with so many complex issues, the elegant and morally correct solution currently looks unattainable and compromise can make for strange bedfellows. Read more below. I will soon be making more posts about the political/policy side of restoring flows in the Deschutes.Read More »
In case you missed the BSWG presentation, or just wanted to take another look, here are the posters they had scattered around the room. There’s lots of data in here, the summary is that there is plenty of water in the Deschutes Basin to meet the demands of irrigators and cities along with fish & wildlife. The problem is how can it be reallocated from the irrigators (who have 90% of all available water) to other needs without harming agriculture? The issues are financial and cultural but they can be overcome if the public demands it.
The Basin Study Work Group is coming to the end of their multi-year study of water needs and availability in the upper Deschutes Basin and holding public meetings to discuss the results. This is an important event for local anglers and I encourage you to attend. BWSG shows what is possible in terms of restoring flows in the upper Deschutes River but it does not require any actions be taken. Public pressure can change that.Read More »
One of the most important issues for anglers and river lovers in the Deschutes Basin is restoring flows in the upper Deschutes River. This is a complex topic where I will spend significant time posting with explanations and analysis, but last week the eight Central Oregon irrigation districts and the City of Prineville presented the outline of their proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the upper Deschutes Basin. There were a few reasonable ideas presented but overall it was bad news for the upper Deschutes. Read More »
One of the most important issues for local anglers and river lovers is the dismal state of the upper Deschutes River (above Bend). This is a complex topic that I will cover in depth over time, but for those of you who have some familiarity with it, my Upper Deschutes Backgrounder could be of interest.