Swalley Irrigation District and the Deschutes River Conservancy recently announced the completion of piping a 3 mile stretch of canal which will restore about 1.8 cubic feet a second (CFS) of flow to the Middle Deschutes during peak irrigation season. 1.8 CFS is about 13.5 gallons. Picture 5-gallon buckets, two full and one 2/3rds-full. Put them on their side and that’s the size of the stream they would create. Restoring water to the river is always good news, but this announcement is a great example of the complexity of the issue.Read More »
Today the Bulletin ran a guest column, “$1 billion is too much to give irrigation districts in these times“, by Tod Heisler of Central Oregon Land Watch. Clearly, I agree with Tod that the current plan is the wrong one. My first letter to The Bulletin criticizing water and canal management by local irrigation districts was over 10 years ago. Hopefully we can get past identifying the problem and finding real solutions to our local water issues before lack of adequate funding, a growing population, and a heating planet create a full-blown crisis. Of course, it already is a crisis for local fish and wildlife.
Today the Middle Deschutes below North Canal Dam was lowered to 74 CFS. The average for this time of year is 470 CFS. Historically it would be at least 1,000 CFS. I took the first photo this afternoon just below the dam, the river has been turned into frog water and much of the bank and what was habitat has been exposed. The second photo is at Sawyer Park. Look at this entry to see the see a similar view 10 days ago when it was at 310 CFS.Read More »
On March 30th the Bulletin had a front page article about some of the ecological problems facing the Upper Deschutes. In response, I quickly submitted a guest column pointing out that the Middle Deschutes is suffering from the same issues. They have not published my column, so here it is for your consideration.Read More »
As I recently posted, last Monday through early Wednesday the irrigators raised the level of the Middle Deschutes almost 50% from 410 CFS to 600 CFS before dropping it to 250 CFS in about 6.5 hours during the day Wednesday. Today I had to go into Bend so I stopped by Sawyer Park to take a look.
Unfortunately, I am given frequent reason to post about the environmental destruction to the Middle Deschutes from abrupt, drastic irrigation withdrawals. Today is a particularly egregious example. In 2 days flows in the river were increased from 410 to 600 CFS and then dropped to 250 CFS in just a few hours! Where’s the news coverage showing all the stranded fish in the side channels in the middle? Why don’t the irrigators slowly ramp down flows in the Middle Deschutes like they do in the Upper Deschutes? Business as usual for the irrigators is the business of environmental destruction.
Today I saw that one of the COID main canals near my house was full of water so I checked the graph. As you can see below, there have been some pretty dramatic fluctuations in the Deschutes below Bend over the past week. There was an abrupt diversion into the canals on February 10 and it looks like another is starting today. (Note that it can take a few days for the water to make it down the canals.) As I have written before, these sudden fluctuations wreak havoc on the aquatic environment and cause increased sedimentation which fills spawning beds.Read More »