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Newsletter Spring 2005

ANNUAL WATER USER MEETING

The Annual Water User Meeting has been scheduled for TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2005 AT 6:00 P.M. AT BEAR CREEK CORPORATION’S CORPORATE CONFERENCE CENTER, LOCATED AT 2800 SOUTH PACIFIC HIGHWAY, MEDFORD, OREGON 97501. The facility is located at the Bear Creek Employment Center. To enter the Conference Center use the first set of double doors closest to South Pacific Highway.

This is a public meeting that will include discussion on the current water supply situation and other issues facing the District. Please plan on attending to become current on the issues affecting your irrigation district and ultimately affecting you, the patrons of the District.

CURRENT WATER SUPPLY AND COMPARISON TO PRIOR YEARS

The following is a snow pack and precipitation comparison taken from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) reports dated April 1st of 2001, a drought year, and 2003, 2004 adequate water years as compared to 2005. The percentages are accumulated from the beginning of each respective water year. The snow pack percentages are of the average.
Snow Pack By Year
2001 28%
2003 65%
2004 106%
2005 44%
Precipitation By Year
2001 47%
2003 97%
2004 97%
2005 71%

The following is a reservoir elevation comparison as of April 1st of 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005. The figures are in acre feet (af) and percentage of capacity of each reservoir:

Year 2001
Howard Prairie 34,295 = 57%
Hyatt Lake 11,676 = 72%
Emigrant Lake 25,496 = 65%
Year 2003
Howard Prairie 28,492 = 47%
Hyatt Lake 9,565 = 59%
Emigrant Lake 37,640 = 97%
Year 2004
Howard Prairie 38,943 = 64%
Hyatt Lake 14,456 = 89%
Emigrant Lake 36,722 = 94%
Year 2005
Howard Prairie 32,896 = 54%
Hyatt Lake 13,592 = 84%
Emigrant Lake 29,419 = 75%

MESSAGE ON THE DROUGHT SITUATION

If conditions do not change, the District could experience some shortages. Even though we had adequate carryover, we still need help from natural stream flow early in the season to extend the storage supply. At this point in time, it looks like there will be limited stream flow to utilize prior to drawing on storage water.

The District will adhere to a strict 2 week rotation schedule unless you can show the District that you are not exceeding a 3 inch irrigation depth in the 2 week period. The 2 week rotations could be subject to extension if weather conditions worsen.

Reservoir levels, current snow pack levels and stream flow forecasts are somewhat better, but very comparable to the 2001 irrigation season in which the District implemented these same regulations, and the District was able to complete the irrigation season.

Runoff or waste will bring District enforcement up to, and including, shutting your water off until your next regular rotation.

Once you start your irrigation you must continue your irrigation until complete. Pumping at night and shutting off during the day or visa versa will not be allowed. This will allow the District to maintain a more even and reliable flow with a minimum of waste at the ends of the canals.

Communicate with your neighbors and Ditch Riders. Good communication is what drives a cooperative system. Call the office 24 hours prior to wanting the water turned on and let your Ditch Rider (and neighbor, if applicable) know 12 hours before you are going to be finished with the water so the Ditch Rider can make necessary adjustments to his system, or keep the water in the reservoirs for release at a later date. Move your sprinklers more often. Although this is burdensome, it will save water. Small cuts to diversions and attention to runoff or waste can pay large dividends towards the end of the irrigation season.

If you have a flood or furrow system, keep the head ditches and laterals clean and free of debris so you can maintain a reliable flow. Do not try to flood certain portions of your land to an unreasonable depth to reach other portions. Try not to over graze pastures to keep adequate cover for moisture retention. Look at the District’s website at talentid.org for updates and progression of the current water supply.

It is important that everyone be patient. There will be interruptions in service at times. There will be fluctuations in water flows as we do our best to conserve reservoir water. Regular mechanical demossing operations will continue throughout the season. As everyone has experienced in the last few years, the use of mechanical demossing does cause limited interruptions in service during the procedures.

The District is engaging its drought mitigation plan as identified in the District’s Water Management and Conservation Plan.

GENERAL WATER CONSERVATION TIPS FOR STRETCHING IRRIGATION WATER FROM THE USDA SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE

Soil can absorb irrigation water only at a given rate, which varies for each soil type. Water requirements vary for different crops. Make sure you apply water to your crop only when needed. Check soil moisture by spade, probe, or soil moisture meter, and make careful visual checks of your crops.

If you have a conservation plan on your farm, or if the soil in your area has been mapped, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) can crosscheck soil type and irrigation data and provide you with the water holding capacity of your soil for a given crop. If you don’t know if your soil has been mapped, check with the local NRCS office. Even if the soil has not been mapped, the NRCS can supply you with general information.

Water stretching measures are important to most farmers in the West. To use your available water in the most productive way possible, here is a checklist to help you analyze your irrigation system.

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
Inspect your system before water starts to flow. Make sure ditches are clean and free from weeds, sediment, or other debris, which can slow water velocity, affect delivery rate and increase evaporation. Consider lining ditches with concrete or plastic. This could avoid the 10-90 percent loss, which often occurs in ditches. Make sure ditch structures like headgates, drop structures, and pipe inlets are strong and functional. A washed-out ditch structure could mean a lot of water lost. Make sure ditch banks are firm and not burrowed into by rodents. Rodent holes could cause leakage or failures. Make sure your pump is operating at peak efficiency. Adequate maintenance will improve efficiency, guard against water loss, and avoid shutdowns.

SPRINKLER SYSTEMS
Make sure nozzles are not worn and leaky. Check pipe connections and valves to prevent leaks. Operate sprinklers at the recommended pressure. To figure how much water to apply use application rate, efficiency factor and time of application. Consider trickle systems for orchards, vineyards, etc. Operate at recommended design values and maintain the filter system.

IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT
Measure the amount of water applied to the field. This can indicate when and how much to irrigate. Consider alternate row irrigation for crops planted in furrows. But remember to alternate an “alternate” row in later irrigations. Consider shorter runs if you furrow irrigate. Match stream size and velocity to soil intake rate and capacity. Consider catching and re-using tail water by pumping it back to the head of the system or re-using elsewhere. Irrigate most crops when soil moisture reaches about 50 percent of capacity.

OTHER PLACES FOR INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE
Consult commercial nursery or garden suppliers for plant watering requirements and recommendations. Check with your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office, Conservation District officials, or Cooperative Extension Service office for details concerning your water conservation questions.

DITCH RIDER ASSIGNMENTS

The Ditch Rider assignments will be the same as last year. They are as follows:

Ashland Canal – Roger Godard
East Canal – Upper Portion – Robert Derry
East Canal – Lower Portion – Sam Camp
Talent Canal – Harold Wagy
West Canal & McDonald Canal – Gordon Pendleton

During the irrigation season the District office is open to receive water orders from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. On the weekends, there is an answering machine, on the office telephone number 535-1529 where water orders can be left. The answering machine is checked regularly on Saturday and Sunday by the Ditch Riders who are on-call. The Ditch Riders usually rotate on-call weekends. If you call the 535-1529 number and the line continues to ring and the answering machine does not pickup, it means that the answering machine is busy and you should hang up and call back in a few minutes. For after-hour’s emergencies the phone number to call is 770-0315. The emergency answering service will contact the District’s emergency response person if your situation constitutes an emergency. An emergency is a situation where property damage is happening or is imminent, not a lack of water or a water order. The emergency answering service will not contact the emergency response person for a water order or for lack of water.

MOSS CONTROL WITH MOSS CUTTER MACHINE

Again this year the District will be using the Moss Cutter Machine to demoss the canal system. The Moss Cutter uses a high-pressure water system to release the moss from the canal prism. The high water pressure also breaks down the loosened moss into smaller pieces that will be removed from the canal by trash racks placed downstream of the Moss Cutter. The trash racks are manned by temporary employees hired to physically pull the moss off of the rack. People with systems, other than flood, will continue to experience problems with the moss residue for a period of time after the demossing operation passes through the canal.

The District will continue to post our planned demossing operations on our website at www.talentid.org. Please feel free to check the website weekly for the most up to date information. The demossing operations will cause interruptions in the canal flows so we ask that you be patient and work with the District during these times.

UPDATE ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA) SECTION 7 CONSULTATION

Since our fall 2004 Newsletter all we can report on the ESA Section 7 Consultation process is that it is still moving forward slowly. There has only been one meeting held since August 30, 2004 and it was held in Portland on February 4, 2005. At this meeting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed portions of their draft Biological Opinion with the three irrigation district managers, the districts’ attorneys, engineer and representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation. At this point in time, the districts can only speculate on what the completed draft Biological Opinion will look like. NOAA anticipates holding the next meeting on the consultation sometime before June of 2005.

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. The board meeting notices are published in the “Public Meeting Notice” section of the Medford Mail Tribune prior to the meeting each month.

The board meetings are open public meetings that anyone may attend. 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. Your written request must be submitted at least one week prior to the board meeting date so that it can be placed on the agenda.

If you attend a board meeting to address the Board without being placed on the agenda, it is possible that you may need to wait until all agenda items are completed by the Board prior to you addressing the Board of Directors with your comments.

PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUESTS

There has been a lot of media coverage lately about the public being able to obtain records from public entities. We thought we would take this opportunity to outline the District’s policy for public information requests.

All public information requests must be submitted, in writing, to the District office. The District Manager will review the written request and authorize the office staff to compile the information. If the request is for a large amount of information the District will respond to the request, in writing, notifying the requestor of an estimated cost to fill the request. The District will then wait to hear back from the requestor as to whether they want to pay the amount or change their request.

The current charge for public information requests for research and compilation of records is $26.24 per hour with a one-quarter hour minimum. If the request is simple and only involves photocopying a few pages, the District will not charge for research and compilation, we will only charge for the photocopies. The current charge for photocopies is $.25 for the first page of each document and $.10 for each additional page of the same document. Payment for all public information requests must be made to the District office prior to the information being released to the requestor.

By Oregon Law, there are some items that are not public information.

WISE PROJECT UPDATE (WATER FOR IRRIGATION STREAMS & ECONOMY) – SUBMITTED FOR THE NEWSLETTER BY STEVE MASON, PROJECT COORDINATOR

The Water for Irrigation, Streams & Economy Project (WISE Project) is a collaborative effort to improve stream flows and water quality in the Little Butte Creek and Bear Creek watersheds in order to create a stable, long-term water supply. The goals of the project are to:

    • Improve reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness of water delivery to irrigation districts (RRVID, TID and MID).
    • Increase stream flows and improve water quality in Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek during the irrigation season.
    • Improve the raw water supply quality for municipal treatment and distribution.
    • Improve aquatic habitat for native anadromous salmonids and riparian species.

Currently, the WISE Project Advisory Committee (PAC) is working on three main items. First, the group is coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in order to receive the required congressional authorization for the BOR to act as the lead agency for the Feasibility Study (FS) and Environmental Impact Study (EIS). Secondly, the PAC is continuing outreach efforts in order to make sure that as many people as possible understand what the WISE Project is all about. Finally, the PAC is working with the consultant team to make sure that the FS/EIS includes all the interests of the Project stakeholders.

The EIS and FS for the WISE Project are well under way, a process that will be completed in 2007. This work will examine all of the potential project alternatives as well as their possible impacts and necessary mitigation. This will be a process that will need and require public input to reach the greatest success. As part of this, scoping meetings for the FS/EIS will be held in 2005 to allow stakeholders the opportunity to learn more about the project and comment on alternatives in order to ensure that the interests of the Rogue Valley are represented. If you would like more information about these meetings or the project in general, visit the website at .www.wiseproject.org or contact Steve Mason, WISE Project Coordinator, at 951-0854 or smason@wiseproject.org.

DISTRICT CHARGES FOR THE 2004-2005 FISCAL YEAR

Again this year, the Board of Directors worked with a budget committee in developing the current year’s budget. The Board of Directors did not increase any of the per acre water rates. The following is a list of the current District rates:

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
Old Land Supplemental $22.50 per acre
New Land Supplemental $23.50 per acre
ESA Consultation Charge $ 2.00 per acre

The Board of Directors increased some of the administrative charges. The following is a list of the current administrative charges:

Lien Search Fee $ 50.00 per tax lot
Liens & Satisfaction of Liens $152.00 per tax lot
Non-refundable Water Right Transfer Fee $500.00 per transfer
Crossing Application Fee $200.00 per crossing
Planning Action Letters with no District concerns $25.00 each
Planning Action Letters with District Concerns $ 50.00 each
Planning Action Letters Requiring On-Site Review by District Employees $100.00 each
Pond Application $50.00 each
Returned Check Charge $25.00 each
Research and Compile Records $26.24 per hour with ¼ hour minimum
Copies $.25 for the first page of each document and $.10 for each additional page from the same document

The District has received numerous calls from people asking if we accept credit or debit cards for payment of their irrigation charges. The District is not setup to accept credit or debit card payments. The District also receives calls from people asking if they can make payments on their bills. The District does accept payments, however, interest does continue to accrue on the unpaid balance at the rate of 16% per annum, as required by the Oregon Statutes.

RECLAMATION REFORM ACT (rra)

Federal funds of the Bureau of Reclamation were used to finance the reconstruction of the Talent Irrigation District in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Because of this, the Reclamation Reform Act (RRA) applies to the users of water within the Talent Irrigation District. If you own and/or lease property or properties which irrigate 40.1 acres or more [this side of the Mississippi River] you must comply with the requirements of RRA. If you own, operate or lease 40.1 acres or more and have not filed an RRA form, please contact our office immediately at (541) 535-1529, P.O. Box 467 or 104 Valley View Avenue, Talent, Oregon 97540. The Bureau of Reclamation requires that the RRA forms be on file in the District office before water can be delivered to the property. It is the land owner’s responsibility to make sure that their forms are filled out correctly and turned into the District office in a timely manner.

TALENT IRRIGATION DISTRICT WATER RIGHT TRANSFERS

Now that the “Proof Survey” has been completed, it is possible for individual landowners to transfer water rights within the Talent Irrigation District. The purchasing and selling of water rights and the amount of money being paid for the water rights is a private matter between the water right seller and buyer. All water rights being transferred must be able to be served from the District’s existing facilities. Once an agreement has been reached between the seller and the buyer, they each need to file the proper paperwork with the District and pay the applicable fee, which is currently $500 and is non-refundable. The transfer is then submitted to the Board of Directors of the District for preliminary review. If the transfer meets the criteria set by the Board of Directors, the Board will give preliminary approval of the transfer. The transfer is then submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise, Idaho for their review of archeological concerns and an assent document. All fees charged by the Bureau of Reclamation for their review process must be paid by the landowners requesting the water right transfers. Once this process is complete, the transfer is then submitted to the Jackson County Watermaster who reviews the transfer to determine if the transfer will cause injury to any existing water rights. If the Watermaster determines there is no injury, he notifies the District as such. The transfer is then submitted to the Oregon Water Resources Department in Salem. If for any reason either the Oregon Water Resources Department or the Bureau of Reclamation denies the transfer request, then the District has no choice but to also deny the transfer. When considering a transfer the Board has many factors to keep in mind. The following are just a few:

    1) Is the water right valid?
    2) Does the District have any requests to receive transferred water rights from this source?
    3) Is the property located within the boundaries of the District or will it require a boundary change?
    4) Has the property been classified as irrigable by the United States Bureau of Reclamation?
    5) Is the property considered eligible for water according to the State of Oregon Water Right Certificate?
    6) Is the transfer in the best interest of the District as a whole?
    7) Is there capacity in the canal/lateral to serve the property?
    8) Where will the point of delivery be?

The transfer process for water rights is very involved. If you are interested in obtaining additional information about the process please contact the District office for a Transfer Packet. Please keep in mind that the District does not get involved in the actual selling/purchasing of the water right. The District is only involved in the actual transfer process.

CANAL SAFETY

The District is concerned with the safety of the general public and wants to remind everyone of the dangers posed by open irrigation canals. The canals and ditches contain slippery moss, sharp rocks, glass and barbed wire. There are a lot of hidden underwater dangers such as turbulence or suction, strong enough to rip off a lifejacket!

Some driveway crossings have a trash rack to catch debris as they flow through the system. The water pressure at these crossings is higher causing even more danger in these areas.

Kids building dams in the canals or ditches for fun can cause extensive damage and expense. Please tell your friends and family how dangerous ditches and canals can be, and please call the District office immediately if you see someone swimming or bathing in the canal.

DISTRICT ELECTION INFORMATION

An election is held on the second Tuesday of each November to elect a board member whose term is expiring. The person receiving the highest number of votes at said election shall be elected, and hold office for three years from the first Tuesday in January next following the election, and until a successor is elected and qualified. In order to qualify as a candidate to run for a board member position, the person must be a resident of Oregon and an owner, or shareholder of a corporate owner, of land within the District. Nominations for a board member position may be made by petition signed by at least 10 electors in the District who are qualified to vote for the director nominated by them. Nomination petitions may be picked up in the District office anytime after September 1st. If only one nomination petition is filed for the position, no election will be held. If you would like more information on board member elections please contact the District office.

TID’S NEW WEBSITE ADDRESS IS www.talentid.org

If you have access to the Internet you can update yourself on current issues at the District. If you have not visited our web page recently, we encourage you to take a look at it. The site is being updated on a regular basis with new information. 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 past newsletters
5) Bylaws
6) Demossing schedules
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.

E-MAIL ADDRESS

If you have a computer and would like to contact Talent Irrigation District by e-mail, the District’s address is tid@talentid.org. You can also e-mail the District directly from our website.

CONCLUSION

We would like to thank you for taking the time to read this Newsletter. As always, the Board welcomes your comments and suggestions.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors of Talent Irrigation District

President, Ronald V. Meyer
Vice-President, Bob Morris
Director, Keith Corp, Jr.