(July 6, 2022) – System modifications to improve irrigation efficiencies and promote water savings in North Unit Irrigation District are under review through a federal environmental planning process that began in October 2019.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has reviewed the potential impacts of the North Unit Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project and released a Draft Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (Draft Plan-EA) on July 6, 2022.
North Unit Irrigation District proposes to pipe 27.5 miles of the District-owned infrastructure (Laterals 31, 32, 34, and 43) and construct four 1,000 cubic yard retention ponds, each about 0.5 acres in size. The proposed project would improve water conservation in District-owned infrastructure and improve water supply management and delivery reliability to District patrons, in order to support drought resilience across the District.
By converting the open-ditch irrigation laterals into a buried, closed-pipe system, the proposed North Unit Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project would reduce water loss from seepage and evaporation, saving up to an estimated 6,089 acre-feet annually, or 2.8 percent of the District’s average annual diversions. Water saved from the proposed project would augment water supplies for the District’s patrons, helping to fulfill existing water rights, and alleviate water supply shortages across the District.
The Deschutes Basin Board of Control is the lead project sponsor with North Unit Irrigation District as a co-sponsor. Funding and technical support is provided from NRCS, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Farmers Conservation Alliance.
NRCS, the District, and Farmers Conservation Alliance hosted a virtual public meeting on July 25, 2022 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. to discuss the Draft Plan-EA and answer questions about the project. The meeting was held virtually using Zoom and you can find a recording of the meeting here. The Draft Plan-EA can be viewed in the Project Documents below. A printed copy of the Draft Plan-EA is also available at the Jefferson County Public Library (241 SE 7th St, Madras, OR 97741).
How to Submit a Comment
Public comments on the Draft Plan-EA may be submitted from July 6, 2022 through August 10, 2022. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com, submitted online HERE, submitted via phone at (541) 716-6085, or mailed to: Farmers Conservation Alliance, 102 State Street, Hood River, OR 97031.
After the public comment period, NRCS will evaluate the comments and incorporate them into a Final Plan-EA. If NRCS issues a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the project and authorizes the Final Plan-EA, the project can move into final design and construction.
The project may be partially funded through the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention program, administered by NRCS and authorized by Public Law 83-566. Through this program, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to local organizations (project sponsors) for planning and carrying out watershed projects that help solve natural resource and related economic problems in a specific watershed. These issues can include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and wetlands enhancement. The authorized purpose for the proposed project is Agricultural Water Management.
For more information about this and other irrigation modernization projects in Oregon visit the NRCS Oregon public notice webpage.
Read more about the proposed project under Project Documents.
October 2, 2019 - The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a public scoping meeting and public scoping period to consider improvements to aging irrigation infrastructure in North Unit Irrigation District, located in Jefferson County south of Madras, Oregon.
A public scoping meeting was held:
October 21, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Jefferson County Library Rodriguez Annex Building
134 SE E Street
Participants had an opportunity to learn more about the proposed irrigation improvements at the meeting and submit their comments, ideas and concerns. Several project documents are located below. Public scoping comments were accepted from October 2, 2019 through November 21, 2019 related to the proposed project.
For more information about North Unit Irrigation District, please visit their website.
For further information please contact:
Farmers Conservation Alliance
Farmers Conservation Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which, as a federal contractor, is assisting NRCS and the sponsors in the Watershed Plan - Environmental Assessment process.
Please note: Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
Further information on the public involvement process can be found at the Council of Environmental Quality's Citizens Guide to NEPA.