Watershed Planning for Irrigation Modernization Projects

Draft Watershed Plan-EA Released for Swalley Irrigation District

On September 21, 2018 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a Draft Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) for the Swalley Irrigation District Irrigation Modernization Project. The proposed project will pipe 16.6 miles of canals and laterals over seven years to improve water conservation, water delivery reliability, and public safety. A public meeting will be held to inform the community of the Draft Plan-EA and to gather public comments. 

Public Meeting

Wednesday October 10, 2018

6:30 – 8:00 PM

Cascades Academy
19860 Tumalo Reservoir Road
Bend, OR 97703 

Comments on the Draft Plan-EA will be accepted until October 24, 2018.  

The Draft Plan-EA, instructions on how to submit a comment, and more information is available on the Swalley project page. View the Notice of Availability from NRCS. 

Tumalo Irrigation District Modernization Project Moving Forward

On August 20, 2018 the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and a Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) for the Tumalo Irrigation District Irrigation Modernization Project. After several years of planning and considering public input, NRCS and project sponsors have determined the project will not cause significant local, regional or national impacts to the environment. 

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

View the Notice of Availability and the News Release from NRCS.

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Overview of the Irrigation Modernization Projects

Several 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-Environmental Assessments 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 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 in the Deschutes Basin by permanently conserving water instream,
  5. Improve public safety by eliminating risks from open 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 pages.

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 News Release on June 19, 2017.  

The 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, several irrigation districts in central Oregon are applying for funding from this program to complete water conservation and modernization projects. In order to qualify for funding, irrigation districts must have:

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

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