For the first time in many years, we will run out of water before the end of the irrigation season. Due to the drought and heat conditions, irrigators used more water than typical and we will run out of water.


WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? The water right permit on the Columbia River Pumping Station was issued in 1981. The state authorized up to 4.5 acre-feet of water for each acre of water rights. This is also the District’s allotment for sprinkler irrigation throughout the District. Typically, we use close to the allotment in Irrigon, but we run into October. This year, the use is up to 15% and we will be done early.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO EXTEND THE SEASON? It would take a 50% cut in current use to extend the season. We may be able to pick up a week or two into October if that were to happen. This would mean minimal irrigation by everyone on the system. Less use equals more days to reach the end. The Division St. Pump Station schedule will change effective September 5: The system will be shut down on Sundays and Wednesdays until the end of the season.

If you plan to continue irrigation with your well or City water, make sure you have a backflow prevention device. It is illegal in Oregon to cross-connect the potable and non-potable water. Oregon State Law requires a backflow preventer assembly to be installed between the home’s drinking water piping and irrigation system piping (OAR 333-061-0070).

WILL THE DISTRICT POLICE THE USE? No. We do not have the manpower to do so. Irrigators have to minimize their use on their own. We are all in this together. It is about the total use on the system, not each individual user.

WHAT CAN WE DO IN THE FUTURE? Understand that the water is limited. Know what you are using and make sure you use your water efficiently. Plan ahead in case of drought to limit your irrigation or irrigated area. Purchasing a meter for your system will let you know what you are using and track the water use.

I don’t think anyone anticipated this type of irrigation season. Going into it, we knew we were dry. But those long hot days required more water, and there were many. Moving forward, we can look to Liberty Mutual’s LiMU Emu, “Only take what you need.” The challenge is making our need match what is available.

BUDGET NEWS – PUMPING COSTS: We are all aware that this is an extreme drought. Pumping power costs will be high again this year.
We may be looking at a special assessment this fall to pay these costs. This will come out with your power bill.