Watershed Planning

Public Involvement for Watershed Plans

Following the first public comment period (July 6, 2017 to July 24, 2017),  the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in partnership with Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA) and the Irrigation Districts will use the comments to develop a Draft Watershed Plan-EA for each district in the form of an ‘Environmental Assessment' (EA). The public will have another opportunity to review these Draft Watershed Plan-EAs and provide additional input before they are finalized.

Background: Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program

The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program, authorized by Congress in 1954. The purpose of this program is to provide technical and financial assistance to public entities for planning and implementing authorized projects that:

  • Protect watersheds,
  • Mitigate floods,
  • Improve water quality,
  • Reduce soil erosion,
  • Enhance fish and wildlife habitat, 
  • Create opportunities for hydroelectric power production.

In 2017, Congress appropriated $150 million to the NRCS Watershed Program. In partnership with the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, three irrigation districts in central Oregon are going to apply for funding from this program to complete water conservation projects: Central Oregon Irrigation District, Swalley Irrigation District, and Tumalo Irrigation District. There are two things that irrigation districts need in order to qualify for funding:

  1. A final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Watershed Plan-EA); and
  2. Match funding.

The purpose of this website is to provide the public information about how to get involved in the watershed planning process.   

Overview of the Proposed Projects

Three irrigation districts in the Deschutes Basin are working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS), the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA), and other stakeholders to develop Watershed Plan-EAs that support irrigation modernization and provide local environmental benefits.


The proposed projects for Central Oregon Irrigation District, Swalley Irrigation District, and Tumalo Irrigation District would convert open irrigation canals to piped and pressurized systems. The proposed projects would:

  1. Support existing agriculture through increased water supply reliability,
  2. Create opportunities for farmers to modernize irrigation infrastructure and reduce operation costs,
  3. Enhance habitat for fish and aquatic species in the Deschutes Basin by permanently conserving water instream,
  4. Reduce risks to public safety from open irrigation canals.

Public participation is essential to the watershed planning and environmental review process. It helps irrigation districts and agencies make informed decisions that consider the full range of environmental effects and alternative solutions. Learn more about the proposed projects on the Project Information page.


NRCS initiated the watershed planning process for these projects on June 16, 2017. For more information please see the announcement at NRCS Public Notices and the NRCS Press Release on June 19, 2017.