Planning for Irrigation Modernization Projects

Latest project news

Arnold Irrigation District Public Scoping Comment Period Ended May 15

On April 3, 2019 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a public scoping meeting and comment period for proposed system improvements in Arnold Irrigation District. The project would conserve water during the irrigation season, reduce energy use, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Deschutes River.  


The project is sponsored by the Deschutes Basin Board of Control and the Arnold Irrigation District, with funding and technical support from the Energy Trust of Oregon, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Farmers Conservation Alliance. 


More information, including how to submit a comment, can be found on the Arnold project page.

Swalley Irrigation District Modernization Project Authorized to Move Forward

The Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment for the Swalley project was officially authorized on March 12, 2019 by Matt Lohr, Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The plan was developed in partnership with the Swalley Irrigation District, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control (DBBC), and the Farmers Conservation Alliance.


Swalley Irrigation District has been awarded $11.2 million in federal funds through the NRCS Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. Swalley will use the funds to modernize and pipe 16.6 miles of their remaining open canals to improve water conservation, water delivery reliability, and public safety, as well as contribute to increases in streamflow in the middle Deschutes River. The project will occur in phases over seven years.


More information and planning documents are available on the Swalley project page.

East Fork Irrigation District Draft Environmental Assessment Under Development

Public scoping comments were accepted October 3 through November 16, 2018 related to proposed irrigation improvements in East Fork Irrigation District. Scoping comments will be used to develop a Draft Environmental Assessment for the project.  


On October 3, 2018 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a public scoping period to consider improvements to aging irrigation infrastructure in the East Fork Irrigation District, located in Hood River County. Improvements under consideration would address water conservation, enhancement of aquatic species habitat, and public safety risks while supporting existing agricultural land use. A public scoping meeting was held October 18, 2018 at the Pine Grove Grange in Hood River. The project is a collaborative effort between NRCS, East Fork Irrigation District, and Farmers Conservation Alliance.

 

More information is available on the East Fork project page

Lone Pine Irrigation District Draft Environmental Assessment Under Development

Public scoping comments were accepted October 2 through November 15, 2018 related to proposed irrigation improvements in Lone Pine Irrigation District. 


A public scoping meeting was held October 17, 2018 in Terrebonne. Scoping comments will be used to develop a Draft Environmental Assessment for the project. 


The project is a collaborative effort between NRCS, Lone Pine Irrigation District, the Deschutes Basin Board of Control, and Farmers Conservation Alliance.


More information is available on the Lone Pine project page

Tumalo Irrigation District Modernization Project Authorized to Move Forward

On September 21, 2018, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) authorized federal assistance for the Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment for the Tumalo Irrigation District Irrigation Modernization Project in Deschutes County, Oregon. The project can now proceed to the first phase of construction.


The project will modernize up to 1.9 miles of Tumalo Irrigation District’s canals and 66.9 miles of laterals to improve water conservation, water delivery reliability, and public safety. The project will occur in phases over 11 years. 


The Final Plan-EA, announcements and other supporting documents are available on the Tumalo project page.

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Overview of Oregon Irrigation Modernization Projects

Several irrigation districts in Oregon 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-Environmental Assessments that support irrigation modernization and provide local environmental benefits.


The proposed projects would convert open irrigation canals to piped and pressurized systems. Generally, the proposed projects would:

  1. Support existing agriculture through improved water delivery reliability,
  2. Improve water conservation in district conveyance systems,
  3. Reduce operation and maintenance costs for farmers and the districts,
  4. Enhance habitat for fish and aquatic species by permanently conserving water instream,
  5. Improve public safety by eliminating risks from open canals.


Public participation is essential to the  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 pages.

The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program (PL 83-566)

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 order to qualify for funding from the program, irrigation districts must have:


  1. An Authorized Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA); and
  2. Non-federal match funding


The purpose of this website is to provide the public information about the development of Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessments in Oregon and how to get involved in the planning process.