All posts by Lisa Baum

Panel sends 7 county drought declarations to governor

SALEM, OR (AP) — The state Drought Council has endorsed seven more county drought declarations and sent them on to the governor.

Water Resources Department spokeswoman Racquel Rancier says the council on Thursday forwarded drought declarations from Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Morrow and Umatilla counties to the governor’s office.

The governor’s declaration allows increased flexibility in how water is managed to ensure that limited supplies are used as efficiently as possible.

According to the state Water Resources Department website, 14 of Oregon’s 36 counties have declared drought disasters, and the governor has followed up with declarations in seven of them.  Federal declarations, which make it possible to apply for drought loans and aid payments, have been made in 15 counties.

Oregon Drought Council Drought Declaration Status

Senator Merkley Town Hall Meetings


Contact:  Courtney Warner Crowell

April 30, 2015                                                                                       503-326-2747

E. OR Field Rep., Pendleton, Karen Wagner 541-278-1192



Town Halls are Saturday, May 16th in Irrigon and Hermiston

 Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley will hold town halls in Morrow and Umatilla Counties in the coming weeks.

 He will update constituents on his work in Washington, DC and answer their questions and invite their suggestions about how to tackle the challenges facing Oregon and America.

 “There are huge issues facing Oregonians and the best way for me to effectively advocate for Oregon’s families and businesses is by getting out on the road and holding a town hall in every county, every year to hear directly from Oregonians,” said Merkley.  “I invite all residents of Morrow and Umatilla Counties to come and discuss what we need to do to strengthen our state and nation.”

 Since joining the Senate in 2009, Merkley has held a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year. Morrow and Umatilla Counties will be his 236th and 237th town halls as a U.S. Senator.

What:  Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley holds town hall in Morrow County.

 When:  Saturday, May 16, 2015, 10:00 am

 Where:  Irrigon Junior-Senior High School Cafeteria

315 W Wyoming Street, Irrigon, OR 97844


Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley holds town hall in Umatilla County.


Saturday, May 16, 2015, 12:30 pm


Hermiston High School Library

600 South First Street, Hermiston, OR 97838

Conservation a must in 2015

West Extension Irrigation District is already feeling the effects of the dry winter.  There was little to no snow pack in the Blue Mountains, which feed the Umatilla River, so water levels in the River have been steadily declining much sooner than usual.    WEID began using the Bureau of Reclamation’s Phase I Pumping Plant to pump Columbia River water into the canal about a month earlier than usual.

Some of this pumped water is “Exchange Water” which is pumped to us at no charge to the District.  This equals the amount of water that WEID leaves in the Umatilla River for fish purposes.  Any water needed above that amount, up to our allotment, we have to pay for.  This money comes out of our budget for pumping costs.

Last year pumping costs both for the main canal and the Irrigon system were much higher than anticipated or budgeted for.  This is why the Special Assessment went out at the end of the year.  The Board of Directors built that additional $2/acre in to this year’s budget with the anticipation this will cover the additional pumping costs that are associated with such a dry year.

Please review the conservation materials that came with your schedule and look on our Resources page for additional information.

Irrigation Tutorials

Are you looking to update and improve  your current irrigation system, or just thinking about putting in an underground sprinkler system?  I found a great webpage that is NOT published by someone who wants to sell you something.  It’s just about spreading irrigation information and ideas.  There are some great troubleshooting pages there too.  Thanks Jess Stryker for the great website!

Irrigation Tutorials


Wind Precautions

Check#2 Umatilla

March winds have finally arrived – better late than never!


Here are the important things to remember:

  • Check your screens often and keep them clean.
  • If you get water down a lateral, follow your water from the headgate all of the way to your property.  Make sure there are no weeds that have blown in the lateral to affect the flow of water.  Keep an eye on the lateral while taking water to insure that it remains clear of debris.
  • If you have to shut your water off unexpectedly, call the emergency on-call ditchrider at  541-314-0005