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Newsletter Fall 2013

WATER SUPPLY INFORMATION

The District ended the 2013 Irrigation Season on Friday, October 4th with the water being shut off to all canals. As everyone knows, this was an extremely hot and dry summer. The District started water deliveries and drawdowns on the reservoirs a month earlier than we had started for the last several years.

The District managed its’ supply to hold water high in Hyatt Lake and Howard Prairie reservoirs to keep water in our storage facilities for the 2014 water year.

Emigrant Lake was drawn down to approximately 20% of capacity to limit the need to release water under the Flood Control Rule restriction.

This year was challenging with the extended hot weather and early start. However, with the carryover the District saved in the reservoirs and an average to above average winter, we should have a good season next year. Conversely, if we have a below average or dry winter and low snowpack and precipitation, next year’s season could prove to be more difficult than this year.

Water conservation and communication is key. By communicating to District staff and giving ditch riders and dam operators time to adjust the system to demand and limiting any waste or runoff from your property, the District is able to store the water in its’ reservoirs rather than lose it.

MC DONALD SYSTEM

The McDonald System water supply ran out and had to be shut off on Tuesday, July 16th. This was the fourteenth earliest shut off date since 1959 for that system.

ROGUE BASIN WATER USERS COUNCIL, INC. KLAMATH ADJUDICATION

The Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. exists to handle issues and events that are common to three local Irrigation Districts which consist of Medford, Rogue River Valley and Talent. The Klamath Adjudication is the process that will “firm-up” the water rights and water use in the Klamath Basin. The Klamath Adjudication has been on-going for some 30+ years.

The Klamath Adjudication and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreements (KBRA) are two very different things. The Districts have been working on, and fully engaged in the Klamath Adjudication process since the beginning, which is a water right regulation and quantification issue.

The KBRA (among other things) hinged on Klamath River main-stem dam removal. The Klamath dams have nothing to do with the Districts’ diversion or transportation of water to the Rogue Basin. The Districts were approached by both the proponents and opponents of the KBRA at one time or another to take a position on the KBRA. However, the Districts determined the KBRA was a local issue in the Klamath Basin rather than a Rogue Basin issue, and chose to remain neutral with respect to the KBRA.

The Klamath Adjudication process has recently come to the point that the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is confident that it can regulate water rights in the Klamath watershed to the priority dates that were accepted in the adjudication. While there are many unknowns at this time, both legal and physical, the Final Order of Determination (FOD) has been released and OWRD will now have the authority to “regulate” water rights to the FOD.

A large portion of the Districts’ water supply comes from stream flow diversions and storage reservoirs that are within the Klamath drainage. Some of the priority dates that have been allowed could have a negative effect on our water supply. One concern is that some Tribal water rights have been granted a water right priority date of “Time Immemorial” which is basically a priority date that is senior in right, to any other within that river basin. The Districts are looking into how it can affect their water supply.

There are several water rights that are senior to the Districts’ water rights but there are hundreds of water rights that are junior to the Districts’ rights that should be regulated prior to the Districts. There is going to be a lot of activity on the Districts’ part to work on answers to these very complex questions.

The Districts take this process as a very real threat to their water supplies, knowing that each District could potentially be affected, albeit to varying degrees. The Districts have been and are actively involved in the process, including but not limited to working with the Oregon Water Resources Department, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (through legal counsel) as well as outside consultants, to assure the Districts follow every remedy that is available to keep an uninterrupted supply of water to the Rogue Basin.

2013-2014 BUDGET AND NEW FEE SCHEDULE

The District has struggled to keep costs down and has not increased irrigation fees for the past five years. Unfortunately we are not able to continue operations without a rate increase this year.

The District held Budget Committee meetings which included all three board of directors; Bob Morris, Richard Fujas and Jeff Bohn, and three budget committee members; Dave Westerberg, Fred Clark and Bob Nelson. In order to continue to offer the same level of service and protect the District water supply from Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Klamath Adjudication issues, it was the consensus of the committee that the Parcel Charge be increased by $10 per tax lot from $75 to $85 and the Annual Irrigation Charge be increased by $4 per acre from $42 to $46 which increases the minimum 1 acre charge from $125 to $139.

The lengthy discussions that lead to the recommendation from the budget committee to raise the rates were difficult ones. The District has experienced increased costs annually over the past five years and we have reduced costs as much as we possibly can. As such, it was the decision of the budget committee to increase the rates as follows:

Irrigation Fees (charged at a 1 acre minimum)
Parcel Charge (per tax lot) $ 85
Annual Irrigation Charge $ 46
New Land Inclusion Charge $ 2
McDonald System Irrigation Charge $ 44
Annual Supplemental Charge $ 23
Bureau Indebtedness $ 6
ESA Consultation Charge $ 2

Administrative Fees:
Lien Search $ 55
Water Right Verification Letter $ 25
Lien/Satisfaction of Lien $ 205
Foreclosure Administrative Fee $ 150
Capital Improvement Transfer
Up to 5 acres $ 220
Each additional acre $ 30
Water Right Transfer $ 550
Re-transfer Water Right, same tax lot different owner $ 220
Re-transfer Water Right, same tax lot same owner $ 110
Water Right Quit Claim Deed $ 110
Temporary Instream Leases:
0.1 to 5 acres $ 45
5.1 to 10 acres $ 90
10.1 to 20 acres $ 135
20.1 to 30 acres $ 175
30.1 to 40 acres $ 220
40.1 to 50 acres $ 265
50.1 50 60 acres $ 310
60.1 + acres $ 330
Water Truck Application Fee $ 110
Charge per 1,000 gallons $ 10
Pond Application $ 55
Right-of-Use Application $220
Planning Action Letters
No Concern $ 30
Concerns $ 55
Requiring on-site review $ 110
Returned Checks (each) $ 30
Research/Compile Records $ 35
Copies (1st page of document) $ .25
Each additional page of same document $ .10

BILLING AND PAYMENT INFORMATION

We would like to remind everyone of the District’s billing schedule and payment due dates. The District operates on a fiscal year which begins on October 1st and ends on September 30th. The annual irrigation statements are mailed out no later than February 4th and are due by April 1st. If the account is not paid in full by April 1st, interest accrues at the rate of 16% per annum (1.33% per month) on the unpaid balance. The interest calculation is retroactive to the billing date of February 4th. The District will begin sending monthly statements out on April 5th and each month thereafter for those accounts with an outstanding balance.

The District accepts payments on all water user accounts. We do not set a payment amount or date, it is up to the water user to make those decisions. It is important to remember that interest will accrue on all unpaid balances at the rate of 1.33% per month. If the current year bill that was sent out in February is not paid by November 15th, the District will file a lien on the property for all unpaid irrigation fees, interest and a Lien Fee in the amount of $205.00 will be added to the account.

The lien fee of $205.00 covers the recording costs charged by Jackson County to have the lien recorded and once the account is brought current, it pays for a Satisfaction of Lien to be recorded. This fee also includes the cost of mailing a lien notice letter by “Certified Mail” and staff time in preparing the Lien and Satisfaction of Lien and making two trips to the Jackson County Courthouse for recording both documents. The District’s cost for filing liens is the same for a 0.10 acre parcel as it is for a 100 acre parcel so even though a one acre minimum charge is $139.00 the Lien Fee will be charged at $205.00.

The District does not accept debit or credit cards or checks over the phone. The District accepts cash, checks or money orders.

RECLAMATION REFORM ACT (RRA)

ANY LANDOWNER WHO OWNS AND/OR LEASES IRRIGATED LAND TOTALING 40.1 ACRES OR MORE MUST ANNUALLY (OR MORE OFTEN) FILE RRA FORMS WITH THE DISTRICT OFFICE PRIOR TO RECEIVING IRRIGATION WATER.

The Bureau of Reclamation requires that RRA forms be on file prior to any water being delivered to the property of owners who own and/or lease irrigated land totaling 40.1 acres or more. If your landholdings change in any way during the irrigation season, which includes moving your property into a trust or the passing of one or more of the property owners, it is imperative that you contact the District office to update your RRA forms.

The District makes every effort to help landowners comply with the RRA regulations, but it is absolutely the landowner’s responsibility to understand the law and make sure that the correct forms are filled out and on file.

Please remember when you make any changes in your landholdings that put you at 40.1 acres or more owned and/or leased, to contact the District office for the necessary RRA forms. The District only updates our ownership records twice a year with Jackson County’s records so your diligence in communicating any changes you make to your landholdings is of the utmost importance. Once a deed is recorded at Jackson County it can take them a few months before the new ownership shows up on their website where we can access the information. If a landowner changes their ownership in any way, during the irrigation season and receives water without a new form on file, you will be fined by the Bureau of Reclamation.

CANAL EASEMENTS AND ACCESS

The land where the District canals are located is owned by the property owner. The District has an easement which allows us to access the canals. These easements are exclusive to the District and do not allow anyone else to enter upon the property. If you try to access the canal for any reason, you are trespassing on the property and the owner has every right to tell you to leave the property or call the authorities to have you removed.

BOARD OF DIRECTOR ELECTION INFORMATION

Irrigation district law requires that at least one member of the Board of Directors must be up for election every calendar year. This year Jeff Bohn’s term of office expires on December 31, 2013.

Nominating Petitions for Director Bohn’s expiring term were available in the District office from September 1, 2013 through October 1, 2013. A legal notice was published in the Mail Tribune on Saturday, September 7, 2013 announcing that the petitions were available. The deadline for filing the Nomination Petitions was on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

Only one Nominating Petition was filed by the deadline and that was from Jeff Bohn. Since only one Nominating Petition was received, the District will not be holding an election this year. Jeff Bohn’s new term of office will be from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016.

BEAR CREEK WATERSHED TMDL IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM

The District has been very consistent in mentioning the Bear Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Implementation Program in our newsletters for several years. This is an important subject and we want to keep reminding everyone of the importance of working to improve water quality in the Bear Creek Watershed.

The District just completed our 4th annual report and it was submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality on September 9, 2013. We are now working on our 5th year report and planning for what we can do to improve water quality for the next 5 year reporting period.

NO SPRAY AGREEMENTS

If you are a landowner that wants to request that no chemicals are used to control plant growth on the District’s right-of-way on your property, you need to annually fill out a No Spray Agreement and file it in the District office by January 1st of each year. You may either pick up an agreement or request that one be mailed or emailed to you. There are no fees for filing this form.

It is important to remember that in signing the No Spray Agreement, you are agreeing to control the vegetation on the District’s right-of-way. Your failure to do so can potentially allow the District to control the vegetation with chemicals.

END OF SEASON LOCKING OF CANAL HEADGATES

It has become a standard practice of the District for many years to padlock the headgates on the canals. The headgates are locked during the winter months to keep water from entering the irrigation lines. The padlocks simply make it easier for the District to control releases of water, as well as offer a level of protection from liability issues.

Next irrigation season the ditch riders will unlock the headgates. If they haven’t gotten to yours when you are ready to irrigate, just give the office a call and they will ask the ditch rider to remove your padlock. Some people take the locking of the headgates as a personal issue that the District does not want them to use water. This could not be farther from the truth. It is simply a safeguard for everyone. 

TID’s Office (circa 1920)

TID’s Current Office located at 104 West Valley View Road, Talent, Oregon.

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