Newsletter Spring 2009
Water Supply Information & Ditch Rider Assignments
The District is entering this irrigation season with an adequate water supply.
The reservoir capacities as of 4/13/09 are as follows:
Howard Prairie 51,030 acre ft. (85%)
Hyatt Lake 16,200 acre ft. (100%)
Emigrant Lake 36,500 acre ft. (94%)
We began setting up the system to run water on April 1st and began flushing the canals the week of April 13th. The water in the system will be increased as the demand for water increases.
Even though we have an adequate water supply, it is still important to use water efficiently and conserve as much as possible. Water that is conserved this irrigation season is carried over to the next irrigation season. Since we never know how much precipitation will be received next winter, we need to be thinking ahead and do all we can to help ourselves out for the 2010 irrigation season.
If you are interested in tracking the reservoir elevations, you can do so all year long at the Bureau of Reclamation’s website at http://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/roguetea.html. The reservoir elevations are updated daily.
DITCH RIDER ASSIGNMENTS
The Ditch Rider assignments are the same as last year and will be as follows: Ashland Canal – Roger
East Canal (Upper Portion) Robert
East Canal (Lower Portion) Sam
Talent Canal – Bob
West Canal & McDonald – Steven
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.
All water orders need to be placed by calling the District office.
The Ditch Riders are provided cell phones for their use in conducting their daily work. It is the District’s policy not to give out the Ditch Rider’s cell phone numbers.
On evenings and weekends, there is an answering machine on the phone number 541-535-1529 where water orders can be left. The answering machine is checked regularly on Saturdays and Sundays by the Ditch Riders who are on-call. The Ditch Riders 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 the answering machine is busy and you should hang up and call back in a few minutes.
For after hours emergencies, the phone number to call is 770-0315. The emergency answering service will contact the District’s on-call person if your situation constitutes an emergency. An emergency is a situation where property damage is happening or is imminent.
The emergency answering service will not contact the on-call person for water orders or for lack of water.
UPDATE ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA) SECTION 7 CONSULTATION
Since the Fall Newsletter was sent out, there have been several more meetings with the Bureau of Reclamation, the districts and our consultants. Following those meetings, the Bureau submitted the final draft Supplemental Biological Assessment to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in January, 2009. At this time, the irrigation districts are standing by to assist NOAA and the Bureau in any way necessary during their process to develop a Biological Opinion that does not impact the District operations.
As previously reported, the ESA Consultation Process continues to be very expensive for the districts. The TID Board of Directors would like to express their gratitude and appreciation for the continued support of our patrons on this extremely important issue. The preservation of our water rights is of the utmost importance to the District.
UNLOCKING OF CANAL HEADGATES
As in previous years, the canal headgates were locked with padlocks at the end of the 2008 irrigation season. This procedure was started because the District began receiving several phone calls or complaints of water moving through unregulated headgates during the winter months causing problems for downstream landowners.
The ditch riders will be unlocking the headgates at the beginning of this irrigation season. If you find your padlock is not open when you are ready to irrigate, please call the office so that your ditch rider can be notified to remove the lock.
The District will continue to post our planned moss removal operations on our website at www.talentid.org. Please feel free to check the website weekly for the most up to date information. The moss growth is sporadic and sometimes sudden with warm weather conditions. We will do the best we can to keep you informed.
Please keep in mind that the moss removal operations will cause limited interruptions in the canal flow, so we ask that you be patient and work with the District during these times.
If you own and/or lease property, or properties which irrigate 40.1 acres or more, west of the Mississippi River, you must comply with the requirements of the RRA. If you own, operate or lease 40.1 acres or more and you have not filed an RRA form, please contact our office immediately. 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, not the District’s, to make sure that the correct forms are filed and filled out correctly.
MEMORIAL TO GORDON J. PENDLETON
The District was stunned to hear of the untimely passing of current employee Gordon Pendleton on March 23, 2009 in an automobile accident in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Before starting work at TID, Gordon worked at two other local irrigation districts where he had obtained extensive knowledge of irrigation district operations. He began his career working at TID in October of 2000. Many of you came to know him when he became the Ditch Rider on the Talent Canal in 2001. After a few irrigation seasons on the Talent Canal, he transferred to the West Canal where he worked until 2005 when he accepted the position of Damtender at the Howard Prairie Base. This position required that he live and work mainly at the Howard Prairie Base and surrounding facilities, occasionally coming down to the valley to work with the other crew members. Gordon was a valuable member of our work crew. He was skilled in many aspects of the District’s operations. In addition to ditch riding and damtending, he wore several other hats including equipment operator, chemical applicator, a trainer for new ditch riders, etc. The District would like to extend our condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
MEMORIAL TO GREGORY T. HORNECKER
The District was saddened to learn of the passing of our long time friend and legal counsel, Mr. Greg Hornecker on March 7, 2009. Mr. Hornecker represented the Talent Irrigation District from October 1964, through the time of his passing.
Mr. Hornecker worked with several managers and boards of directors over the forty plus years of representing the District. He was instrumental in negotiating numerous contracts for the District including those with the Bureau of Reclamation, municipalities, water users organizations, etc. His hard work and dedication over the years has been sincerely appreciated. Mr. Hornecker’s extensive knowledge of the District can never be replaced.
In addition to his work with the District, Mr. Hornecker was very active in the community including serving on many boards, one of which was erved on many bar and community boards including the Board of Bar Examiners and as board chair of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and numerous other organizations.
The District would like to extend our condolences to Mr. Hornecker’s family, friends and co-workers. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him, not only for his professionalism, but for his wonderful sense of humor.
BOARD OF DIRECTOR 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, 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 who are qualified to vote in the District . 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.
This is just a reminder that the District is not set up to accept debit or credit cards. The office receives inquiries each year from people wanting to pay their bills over the phone by debit or credit cards.
The District checked into getting set up to accept debit and credit cards, but because our use of the machines would be small, it was not cost effective.
Please remit your payments by check, money order or cash.
TID AND WATERSHED HEALTH
In the Bear Creek Watershed, over 311 miles of creeks have been documented as not meeting state water quality standards. Problems include high bacteria numbers, high temperatures, excessive aquatic weeds, excess sediments and others. When waterbodies fail to meet water quality standards, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is required to develop pollution limits to bring the watershed back to a healthy status and meet those standards. These limits are called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). As part of the TMDL process, TID is working with DEQ to develop a plan which outlines how the District will address water quality impacts. The District is reviewing policies and practices and may be making operational and structural changes in the future to protect water quality. Contact Bill Meyers at DEQ for more information. 776-6010 ext. 253.
USDA SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT – ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY INCENTIVE PROGRAM (EQIP)
The United States Department of Agricultural, through the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), administers a program called the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). This program helps fund on-farm irrigation system improvements that improve irrigation system efficiencies and use irrigation water wisely. NRCS places high priority for program cost share funding when landowners or agricultural producers convert from surface flood irrigation systems to sprinkler and/or more efficient systems where irrigation water can be controlled so water runoff and/or deep percolation can be eliminated. The cost share is based on a state average cost of 50%, but can be 75% if the agricultural producer is documented as “Historically Underserved”, Limited Resource Producer (low income base) or Beginner Farmer (farming less than 10 years).
To get an application or to learn more about this and other conservation programs, you can visit the NRCS website at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/, under Conservation Improvement Programs. Application signups are taken continuously, with ranking for contract selection occurring once or twice a year. You can contact local NRCS representatives by calling Nicola Giardina at 776-4267 extension 108 or Peter Winnick at 776- 4267 Extension 109. You can also visit their local office located at the USDA Service Center on 573 Parsons Drive, Suite 102, Medford, OR 97501.
POLICY FOR COLLECTION OF DELINQUENT WATER USER ACCOUNTS
The District has had a set policy for several years for the collection of delinquent water user accounts. The following is a reminder of that policy and procedure:
February 1, 2009 the District mailed out the annual charges.
April 1, 2009 the annual charges were due. Any charges remaining unpaid after this date 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.
October 6, 2009 the Board of Directors reviews the list of all delinquent accounts.
October 6, 2009 all delinquent accounts which owe twenty dollars ($20.00) or more are mailed a letter “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested” that a lien will be filed against their property if their account is not paid in full by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 2009. The additional charge added to each account that has a lien filed on it is $170.00 per tax lot.
November 17, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. the “Notice of Lien Claim is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County, Oregon.
January 15, 2010 any accounts owing fees from 2007 that have 3 liens filed against their property will have foreclosure proceedings initiated by the District’s attorney.
April 1, 2010 any properties who have failed to pay their 2009 irrigation charges in full, will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property in until their delinquent 2009 and any prior year’s charges (if applicable) are paid in full.
UTILIZATION OF AVAILABLE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The Bureau of Reclamation established its Water Conservation Field Service Program (WCFSP) in 1996. The purpose of the WCFSP was to direct the Secretary of the Interior to encourage and implement water conservation measures on Federal Reclamation projects. The Talent Irrigation District is one of the three irrigation districts associated with the Rogue River Basin Project that was authorized by the Act of August 20, 1954 (68 Stat. 752, Public Law 83-606).
Since that time, the District has applied for and received substantial assistance from the Bureau of Reclamation for water conservation improvements such as the installation of 40,000 feet of pipe, 750 cubic yards of shotcrete, 10 flow meters, 6 ramp flumes and gauging stations, 8 telemetry sites, 3 automated traveling screens, 8 automated trash racks and computers and software to assist in water management efficiency.
The District’s current projects include extending the T13 pressure line along Colver Road in Phoenix, piping a section of the West Main Canal near Burrell Road in Medford, and a System Optimization Review (SOR). The District, in partnership with Medford Irrigation District and Rogue River Valley Irrigation District, have hired a consultant to review the operations in the Rogue River Basin to identify opportunities to conserve water and manage water better and to prepare a report that summarizes the data.
In keeping with the District’s policy to find alternative funding sources, the District has also sought financial assistance from other organizations such as the Oregon Water Resources Department’s Water Measurement Improvement Grants for water measurement devices, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in conjunction with the Rogue River National Forest Service to upgrade sections of the McDonald System and Special Districts Association of Oregon’s Safety Grant for upgrades to the District’s communications systems. We have also partnered with the Energy Trust of Oregon to fund a study to identify areas in the District’s system that could support micro hydroelectric facilities.
The District’s aggressive approach to finding alternate funding sources has benefited the District’s patrons not only in the conserving of water for future years, but over the past five years funds received through financial assistance grants have averaged a savings of $7.00 per acre billed.
WISE PROJECT UPDATE
WISE (Water for Irrigation, Streams and Economy) is a regionally-supported water management project that will improve the Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek watersheds in Jackson County. This pivotal effort will enhance the viability of our regional agriculture, critical habitat and quality of life. WISE is supported by 19 stakeholders, including Talent Irrigation District, who comprise a Project Advisory Committee. They are dedicated to working together to identify sustainable water management solutions. For more details and upcoming meeting dates, visit www.wiseproject.org.
WISE will address irrigation availability and reliability issues, municipal summer source water quality and degraded water quantity and quality for native anadromous salmonids. Elements include replacing open canals with closed pipe systems, utilizing reclaimed water and increasing reservoir storage capacity.
Environmental permitting and design feasibility work is underway. The analysis—to be compiled in a Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement—will identify a range of alternatives to improve irrigation reliability, water quality, aquatic habitat for anadromous salmonids and water supply for municipal treatment and distribution. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2011 or 2012.
Currently, a hydrologic model is nearing completion that will be used to compare baseline conditions to the proposed alternatives. The alternatives being considered include piping all of the main canals within TID, MID and RRVID with different layouts for the proposed piped main canals of the three irrigation districts, as well as potential benefits of piping the entire lateral system. This phase of the evaluation will be completed by the end of September.
Once completed, the project will prepare for the public scoping period. All of the proposed alternatives with costs and benefits will be made available to the public with an opportunity to provide helpful input for making this project a success. Please keep your ears open for further information from your irrigation district office on the details and schedule for the project.
WISE Project Coordinator email@example.com
CANAL, CANAL ROAD MAINTENANCE AND RIGHT-OF-WAYS
Those of you who own property along the main canals are well aware of the maintenance that has to take place on a regular basis. Each spring, before water is in each canal, we clean the silt and vegetation from within the canal prisms. We typically remove these materials and place them on the edge of the roadway to dry. At a later date, we then grade these materials back across the canal road or use them to level the road from damage caused by human and animal traffic during wet weather conditions. The District’s easements and right-of-ways are for District access, operation and maintenance only.
The office receives several phone calls a year from people asking for permission to walk, horseback ride, jog, etc. on the canal roads. The land where the canals are located is owned by the property owner. The District has easement authority only for our use. We cannot give anyone permission to use the canal roads for any reason. If you need to access the canal road, please contact the landowner of the property for permission. If permission is granted, have the landowner notify the District office of the authorization.
PROCESS FOR ACQUIRING NEW WATER RIGHTS
The office receives many inquiries on the process for acquiring new water rights for property. The District does not have any water rights available to transfer. The only way to obtain additional water rights is to find someone within the District boundary that does not want their water rights anymore and go through the transfer process to move the water rights from one property to the other.
Water rights can be bought and sold. The District does not get involved in the actual sale of the water rights, but the transfer of water rights from one property to another has to be approved by the TID Board of Directors, Bureau of Reclamation and Oregon Water Resources Department. We have had instances of neighbors giving their water right to neighbors and have heard that they are being sold for up to $5,000 per acre.
Once you are able to find water rights to transfer, there is a $550 non-refundable transfer application fee payable to the District when the transfer application is submitted. The application contains several pages of information and will be reviewed by the Board of Directors and either approve or deny it. If approved, the transfer is sent on to the other agencies for review. Once these agencies have approved the transfer, the District will process the final petition for inclusion which is signed by the landowners. In addition to the application fee, there are additional charges which will be incurred. We typically estimate those charges to be about another $600. It is important to realize that it can take up to one year to complete the water right transfer due to the review process with the other agencies involved.
If you would like more information on the water right transfer process please contact the District office at 541-535-1529.
REMINDER ABOUT CANAL SAFETY
With the irrigation season upon us, the District is constantly concerned with the safety of the general public and wants to remind everyone of the dangers posed by open irrigation canals. The canals 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 it floats in the water. The water pressure at these crossings is higher, causing even more danger in these areas.
Kids building dams in canals or ditches for fun can cause extensive damage that requires expensive repairs. Please communicate to your friends and family that it is not only against the law to be in the irrigation canals, but how dangerous ditches and canals can be. Please call the District office immediately if you see someone swimming or bathing in the canals.
The Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon Water Resources Congress, Idaho Water Users Association and the Washington State Water Resource Association have published a coloring book entitled “Otto Otter For Safe Canals”. The District still has a small supply of the coloring books on hand if you would like to stop by the office and pick some up. The books are written in English and Spanish.