Newsletter Fall 2003
TALENT IRRIGATION DISTRICT
PO BOX 467
TALENT OR 97540
CURRENT WATER SUPPLY
The District shutoff water deliveries to the project canals on Tuesday, October 14, 2003. This ended what appears to be a very good season, except for the moss problems that everyone experienced. The McDonald System was shutoff completely on August 14th. (Since 1959 the average shutoff date for the McDonald System has been July 31st.) The District ended the season with the following carryover for next irrigation season:
Howard Prairie 28,149 acre-feet = 46% of capacity
Hyatt Lake 8,951 acre-feet = 55% of capacity
Emigrant Lake 9,317 acre-feet = 24% of capacity
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA) CONSULTATION PROCESS
The following article was included in the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. Newsletter that was mailed out to all TID water users on October 15, 2003. This issue is so important that we decided to include the article in this Newsletter to reemphasize its importance.
We would like to take this opportunity to introduce the water users of the Talent Irrigation District to a new organization called the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. (RBWUCI). The organization was formed by the Talent, Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation Districts’ in August of 2003 in response to the 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue sent to the Bureau of Reclamation (Upper Columbia) Office by the Oregon Natural Resource Council (ONRC) and the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC). The purpose of the formation of this new organization is to try to protect the water rights and shared issues of the three irrigation districts.
The following is a brief history of what has happened, to-date, on this matter:
Some time ago, the Talent, Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation Districts entered into pre-consultation activities with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act to prepare a Biological Assessment (BA) for all three Districts. The decision to prepare a Biological Assessment was to establish an environmental baseline for the districts and to see if any federal actions are “likely to adversely affect” listed species. The Biological Assessment is a biologist’s view of how the Districts’ operations impact endangered species and plants within our area of operation.
On January 30, 2003 William Carpenter, on behalf of the Oregon Natural Resource Council (ONRC) and the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) filed a 60-day Notice of Intent against the Bureau of Reclamation. The Notice of Intent was filed in part, because the Bureau of Reclamation had not completed the consultation process for the Rogue Basin.
The 60-day Notice of Intent mentioned the Rogue Basin’s annual average diversion of approximately 30,000 acre-feet of water from the Klamath River Drainage to the Rogue Basin. To give the Talent Irrigation District water users an idea of how much water this is, it is equal to one-half of the District’s annual average water supply. For Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation District water users, the 30,000 acre-feet of water is more than the full storage capacities of Fourmile Lake, Fish Lake and Agate Lake combined. The loss of this amount of water would be devastating to the districts and would severely impact livability in the Rogue River Valley by reducing stream flows throughout the Basin. The following are just some of the water uses that would be impacted: agricultural production and yields, agricultural employment, parks, schools, golf courses, etc., as well as municipal supplies for some cities.
It appears that ONRC and NEC, filers of the 60-day Notice of Intent, want to transfer Fourmile Lake, Howard Prairie and Hyatt Lake water back to the Klamath River Drainage and divert what they feel is needed down Jenny Creek to improve the water situation in the Klamath River. The 30,000 acre-feet of water is a very small amount over the scope of the needs in the Klamath River and will do little to relieve the water problems. In addition, the 30,000 acre-feet of water is not available when the water is needed in the Klamath River. The water is only available during the spring runoff season and without the use of the lakes for storing the water, it will run down the Klamath River earlier than it is needed. In other words the 30,000 acre-feet, in reality, is stored from early spring runoff when stream flows are high.
The Bureau started work on the consultation process over two years ago, however, ONRC and NEC determined that the Bureau had not proceeded with its’ completion in a timely manner. The Bureau continued to work on the Rogue Basin Biological Assessment and as the chapters were drafted, the irrigation districts intermittently met with the Bureau of Reclamation to give their input on the information. The original proposed date for completion of the final BA was to be sometime later this year. However, in a settlement agreement between ONRC and the Department of Justice (on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation) to avoid a lawsuit from ONRC, the Department of Justice agreed to the following timeline for completion of the Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion:
1) Reclamation was to deliver the Biological Assessment to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service by August 31, 2003 (it did).
2) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service will complete a Biological Opinion by April 1, 2004.
3) The Oregon Natural Resource Council will be provided with a copy of the Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion when it is submitted to NOAA and USFWS.
4) ONRC reserves the right to sue the Bureau of Reclamation at a later date, however, they will need to file another 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue, prior to filing any lawsuit.
The irrigation districts were not allowed to participate, or even made aware of any part of the settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and ONRC. The districts were told after the settlement agreement was negotiated, that the Bureau of Reclamation was not to divulge any information about the negotiations.
The Bureau wrote the BA and released it to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) who are reviewing the BA and will issue a Biological Opinion (Bi-Op). (To clarify the relevance of this situation, the Bi-Op from NOAA and USFWS is what forced the water shutoff in the Klamath Basin in 2001.) The BA states that certain species are likely to be adversely affected by the Bureau’s operations. On the basis of the BA and other information, the Bi-Op will either find “no jeopardy” for the listed species or plants in the districts’ area of operation, or it will find that the species or plants have “jeopardy”. If NOAA and/or USFWS find there is “jeopardy”, then the districts will enter into negotiations for mitigation of the districts’ impact upon that particular species or plant. Once mitigation is agreed to, NOAA will then issue the districts an Incidental Take Permit. The Incidental Take Permit protects the districts from the threat of citizen’s lawsuits for the districts’ impact upon the species or plants in its day-to-day operations.
In the beginning the districts were asked by the Bureau to consult on the project for both the private and federal facilities. The Bureau now refuses to include important private facilities. The districts asked for “Applicant” status in the consultation. The Bureau was very concerned about granting the status due to the fact that it would enable the districts to convene the “God Squad”. The Bureau originally assured us that we would receive the most important aspects of “Applicant” status, that would include a “seat at the table” so the districts would have immediate and effective review and input on the Biological Opinion. The Bureau refused this request; the Districts employed counsel who asked the Bureau to reconsider, which it did, but again, refused to change its mind. Follow-up discussions have not resolved the problem, and litigation is possible on this issue. A “seat at the table” is absolutely critical because the BA is flawed with questionable science and analysis. The districts cannot afford to wait to correct this flaw. We must be proactive. Our scientists feel that absent “Applicant” status, an adverse Bi-Op is an inevitable conclusion.
The Talent, Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation Districts are taking this proceeding as a serious threat to our water supply. By forming the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc., the three irrigation districts are combining resources to be proactive in the protection of our water supply and the future of agriculture in the Rogue Valley. By coming together and pooling our resources we hope to minimize the cost to all of the districts patrons. It is also the hope of the RBWUCI to gather support from other affected agencies and individuals, in addition to the water users of the three irrigation districts. The RBWUCI has setup a tax-deductible fund that anyone can contribute to. Contributions to this fund can be made to the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc., P.O. Box 467, Talent, Oregon 97540. If you have questions, please contact your irrigation district office.
The districts have enlisted the services of a spokesperson to help educate the public and get the word out about this issue. This person is John Dimick. John is a resident of Eagle Point and a fifth generation Oregonian. He taught agriculture classes for 33 years and is now retired. John has a small cattle ranch in Eagle Point and another ranch in Burns. In the near future, John will be available to make presentations on this issue to service groups on behalf of the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc.
The water users from all three irrigation districts should be aware that it is necessary for the districts to raise funds to fight this battle to protect our water rights. It will be up to the Board of Directors of each individual district to determine how their district will collect funds for this extreme threat to the Rogue Valley’s water supply. We must achieve “Applicant” status now, whether through negotiation or our own lawsuit. For the districts to have any reasonable chance for success, we must be able to pay for our own scientists and lawyers. We will need your help.
For future updates to this issue please visit the irrigation district website at: www.talentid.org
The Board of Directors appointed a Budget Committee to review the District’s Budget for 2003-2004. This is the third year for the budgeting process to include a Budget Committee. The Board of Directors found that the information they gain from the use of Budget Committees is invaluable when determining the needs and concerns of the District as a whole. This year’s Budget Committee was made up of the District’s three Board Members: Ron Meyer, Brian Stringer and Bob Morris and three water users: Willard Chapman, Lowell Fowler and Keith Corp. The Budget Committee met in three special meetings on the evenings of August 7th, August 21st and August 28th at the District office.
The Committee’s goal this year was to have a balanced budget, while at the same time, find funding for the ESA Consultation Process and employee wage increases. The employees of the District have been under a wage freeze for the last three years. The Committee recognized the need to reward the employees with a wage increase this year.
Prior budgets, since the 1996-1997 Fiscal Year, have reduced the balances in the District’s Reserve Accounts by just over $315,000. This year’s Committee Members were determined not to reduce the Reserves any further and to adopt a balanced budget.
As explained at the beginning of the Newsletter, the ESA Consultation Process is going to be a long-term process, possibly expanding over several years. The Budget Committee felt it was necessary to approve a special charge of $2.00 per acre to fund the District’s share in the ESA Consultation Process. The charge will be listed on the annual statements as a separate line item and will be reviewed for continuation on an annual basis.
The Budget Committee also decided that with the rising costs of operating and maintaining the District that it was necessary to increase the Administrative Account Charge by $5.00, from $65.00 per tax lot to $70.00 per tax lot. Irrigation charges have not been increased for three years, and the Committee felt that the new rate was not out of line with the other two irrigation districts in the Basin.
At the regular board meeting of the Board of Directors held on Tuesday, September 9, 2003 the Board of Directors approved the new budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2003 and ending September 30, 2004. The Budget was accepted with a new $2.00 per acre charge for the ESA Consultation Process and a $5.00 per tax lot increase in the Administrative Account Charge. The current year’s charges are as follows:
Account Charge $70.00 per tax lot
Old Land $45.00 per acre
New Land $47.00 per acre
McDonald Land $37.00 per acre
ESA Consultation Process $2.00 per acre
Lien Search Fee $40.00 per tax lot
Lien and Satisfaction of Lien Fee $152.00 per tax lot
Basic Water Right Transfer Fee $500.00 per transfer
Crossing Application Fee $100.00 per crossing
Planning Action Letters $25.00/$50.00 per letter
Returned Check Charge $25.00 per check
Pond Application Fee $25.00 per pond
Research/Compile Records $22.46 per hour
Copies $.25 first page of each document and $.10 for each additional page of the same document
MAINTAINING WATER RIGHTS
All land in the District that currently has a water right must maintain that water right by putting the water to a beneficial use at least once in every five-year period commencing with the 2002 water year. An example of this would be if you chose not to irrigate your land in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, you must irrigate your land for beneficial purposes in 2006, or your water right could be forfeited. The District Ditch Riders started tracking idle land (land not being irrigated) starting with the 2002 irrigation season. After four years of non-use the District will notify you that you need to use the water or make arrangements for transfer, or you will lose the right to water. If you choose not to use the water right, it will be forfeited and the District will transfer it to another property to be used beneficially. It is very important to the District that all landowners maintain their water rights because the land base of water rights are the financial foundation of the District, and for the District to remain financially secure, it is important that the water rights remain valid.
WISE PROJECT UPDATE (SUBMITTED FOR THE NEWSLETTER BY STEVE MASON, WISE PROJECT COORDINATOR)
The WISE Project entering Feasibility Study Phase
Since the last update of the Water for Irrigation Streams & Economy Project (WISE) in the Spring TID Newsletter, much has happened, including the hiring of an Outreach and Marketing Team and the selection of a consulting team to conduct the Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Study (FS/EIS).
The City of Medford has received a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency, which along with funds from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, will be used to fund the FS/EIS. The goal is to have the consultant team hired by the end of October to begin working on the FS/EIS, which will take approximately eighteen to thirty-six months to complete. The FS/EIS will begin with the preparation of a scoping and needs assessment document that will detail each of the major items that will be studied. This initial scoping and needs assessment phase will be completed by March 2004.
Through a grant from the Jackson County Resource Advisory Committee, Jones & Stokes was hired to head up the Outreach and Marketing Team for the WISE Project. The team began work in July and will have the Outreach Plan completed before the end of the year. The implementation of the Plan will begin immediately thereafter, and will include numerous outreach efforts such as the development of a WISE website, coordination of site tours for stakeholders, and facilitation of regional water forums to discuss issues relevant to the WISE Project.
The goals of the WISE Project are to improve stream flows and water quality in the Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek basins while at the same time improving the delivery efficiencies of the local irrigation districts (TID, MID, RRVID). These goals are important to the residents of the Rogue Valley to address the increasing demands on our water resources and to maintain our quality of life. Modernizing the delivery infrastructure of the irrigation districts will conserve a significant amount of water while providing improved management capabilities, including the reduction of moss and algae in the canal systems, an issue that continues to be significant for the irrigation districts in the Bear Creek Valley.
Through the FS/EIS, the consulting team will assess which alternatives are feasible, as well as the overall cost of implementation. The WISE Project Advisory Committee will continue to work, with the Marketing and Outreach Team to make sure the needs and interests of all the stakeholders in the Rogue Valley are being considered. Information provided by the community will help the consulting team conduct a thorough assessment of all alternatives under consideration. If you have any questions regarding the WISE Project, please contact your irrigation District Manager or Steve Mason, the WISE Project Coordinator (951-0854).
Formerly known as IPOD and the Little Butte/Bear Creek Water Management Project Stakeholder List for WISE Project: City of Medford/Medford Water Commission/Talent Irrigation District/Medford Irrigation District/Rogue River Valley Irrigation District/Jackson County Farm Bureau/Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District/Bear Creek Watershed Council/Little Butte Creek Watershed Council/Bear Creek Corporation/Oregon Water Trust/Waterwatch/Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board/Oregon Water Resources Department/Rogue Basin Coordinating Council/Rogue Valley Council of Governments/Bureau of Reclamation
This year the District again used mechanical cleaning methods to try to control the moss in the canals. With mechanical cleaning, the moss growth seems to get progressively worse each year in the canals. Since the moss reproduces by fragmentation, when it is broken free, it goes down the canal and replants itself somewhere else.
Total mechanical moss control is not the answer. It is hard on the canals themselves by widening and deepening the canal prism, which promotes more moss growth. It also damages areas of the canal system that are already lined and makes it nearly impossible to maintain water efficient systems such as sprinklers, drip, etc. The District continues to look for cost effective alternatives to chemical use as well as exploring some other more efficient mechanical means and pursuing permit options for chemical use.
DISTRICT ELECTION INFORMATION
Board President Ronald V. Meyer’s term of office as a Board of Director expires on December 31, 2003. Nominating Petitions to fill Mr. Meyer’s expiring term were available in the District office from September 2, 2003 until October 7, 2003. A legal notice was published in the Mail Tribune on Thursday, September 11, 2003 announcing that the petitions were available. The deadline for filing the Nomination Petitions was 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 7, 2003. The only Nominating Petition that was filed by the deadline was from Ronald V. Meyer. Since only one Nominating Petition was received, the District will not be holding an election on the second Tuesday in November. Ronald V. Meyer will be reappointed as a director of the Board for a three-year term commencing on the first Tuesday in January 2004.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
Utilizing cost-share money from the United States Bureau of Reclamation for each of the projects listed below, the District has tentatively planned the following Capital Improvement Projects for this winter. It is important to note that the list is subject to change as priorities present themselves.
Fern Valley Project – 6,520 feet of various sizes of pipe
T-7 Colver Road – 480 feet of 12 inch pipe
T-16 – 3,060 feet of 10-inch pipe
Talent Main Canal at Sundown Vineyard – 10 cubic yards of gunite
East Main Canal at Wilson Road – 122 cubic yards of gunite
Talent Main Canal T-3 Diversion – 7.5 cubic yards of gunite
CANAL MEASURING DEVICES/TELEMETRY
North Fork of Larson Creek
FLOW METERS ON DISTRICT PRESSURE LINES:
Install at least two Flow Meters
AUTOMATED TRASH RACK:
Lower end of the East Canal
POLICY FOR COLLECTION OF DELINQUENT WATER USER ACCOUNTS
An outline of the Districts’ procedure for the collection of delinquent water user accounts is as follows:
1) February 5, 2003 – the District mailed out the annual charges.
2) April 1, 2003 – the annual charges were due. Any charges remaining unpaid after April 1, 2003 are deemed delinquent. Interest is charged to delinquent accounts from the date the invoice was originally mailed. The interest rate, as set by State Statute, is 16% per annum.
3) October 1, 2003 – the Board of Directors reviewed the list of delinquent accounts.
4) October 7, 2003 – all delinquent accounts which owe twenty dollars ($20.00) or more were mailed a letter “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested” that a lien will be filed against their property at 8:00 a.m. on November 17, 2003 if their account is not paid in full by November 14, 2003. The additional charge added to each account that has a lien filed on it is $152.00 per tax lot.
5) November 17, 2003 – the “Notice of Lien Claim” is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County Oregon.
6) April 1, 2004 – any properties who were billed on February 5, 2003 and have not paid their accounts in full by April 1, 2004, will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property in 2004 until their delinquent 2003 and any prior year’s charges (if applicable) are paid in full.
7) January 15, 2004 – after the District has filed three (3) “Notice of Lien Claims” against the property of any delinquent account, the District will initiate foreclosure proceedings.
The District office is constantly receiving requests from people to accept debit and credit cards for payment on their accounts. The District only accepts cash, checks, and money orders for payments.
MONTHLY DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETINGS
The regular board meetings of the Board of Directors of Talent Irrigation District are held at 1:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the District office at 104 Valley View Avenue, Talent, Oregon 97540, unless there is a time conflict and the board meeting needs to be changed. These meetings are open to the public. If you would like to be on the agenda to address the Board of Directors please submit your request in writing, and include the topic you wish to discuss with the Board at least one week prior to the meeting date so that you can be placed on the agenda.
TID’S NEW WEB PAGE – www.talentid.org
The Talent Irrigation District has a new web page where people with access to the Internet can update themselves on current issues at Talent Irrigation District. The following is a list of items that can be found on the TID web page:
1) History of the District
2) Listing of Board Members and Staff
3) Rules and Regulations
4) Current and Previous Newsletters
5) Weekly Demossing Schedules During the Summer Months
6) A link to The Bureau of Reclamation’s Teacup Reservoir Elevations
7) A link to Jackson County’s Smart-map
8) District Bylaws
9) Updates on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other issues
If you have any ideas on information that could be added to the site to improve it please let us know. The address of the Web Page is www.talentid.org
If you have a computer and would like to contact Talent Irrigation District by e-mail, the District’s new e-mail address is email@example.com
We would like to thank you for taking the time to read this Newsletter. It is you, the landowner that makes TID a community organization and not just another bureaucracy. As always, the Board welcomes your comments and suggestions.
Board of Directors of Talent Irrigation District
Ronald V. Meyer, President
Brian D. Stringer, Vice-President
Bob Morris, Director