Newsletter Spring 2014
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON THE DROUGHT
As of May 20, 2014 individual reservoir capacities were as follows:
Howard Prairie: 33,100 acre feet or 55%
Hyatt Lake: 7,150 acre feet or 44%
Emigrant Lake: 29,270 acre feet or 75%
Overall we are at about 60% of pooled capacity which is roughly 75% of normal for this time of year.
As you are well aware, we are all facing a drought this year. The District had a respectable carryover of water from 2013 to this year, however because of the extremely dry winter and spring and fisheries requirements, the reservoirs are low. There is very little snowpack and there is next to no natural stream flow which is what we typically rely on to start the season and extend the storage supply.
Conditions closely resemble the drought years of 1977, 1992 and 1994 with most of those years having a better snowpack than we have this year.
For those of you on rotation, 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. 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 vice 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 District office 24-48 hours prior to wanting the water turned on and let your Ditch Rider (and neighbor, if applicable) know 24 hours before you are going to be finished with the water so the Ditch Rider can make necessary adjustments to his system and reserve the water in the reservoirs for release at a later date. Open canals do not work like faucets. Changes in canal flows can take up to 24-30 hours to show after adjustments have been made. 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 www.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 several years, the use of mechanical demossing does cause limited interruptions in service during the procedures.
The following are some general conservation measures that will help conserve water:
Inspect your system before water starts to flow. Make sure the 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 significant losses, which often occurs in ditches. Make sure 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.
At this time we are estimating the water supply should make it through approximately September 15th. If we have several 100 degree days it could be sooner, or if we are fortunate enough to have rains throughout the summer is could last longer.
DITCH RIDER ASSIGNMENTS
The Ditch Rider assignments are the same as last irrigation season and are as follows:
Ashland Canal – Mark
East Canal (Upper Portion)- Robert
East Canal (Lower Portion) – Sam
Talent Canal – Bob
West Canal and McDonald System – 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 and requests to contact the Ditch Riders need to be placed by calling the District office at 541-535-1529.
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 Riders’ cell phone numbers.
On evenings and weekends, there is a voice mail system on the phone number 541-535- 1529 where water orders and messages can be left. The messages are checked regularly on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays by the Ditch Rider who is on-call. The five Ditch Riders rotate on-call weekends.
For after hours emergencies, the phone number to call is 541-770-0315. 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. These types of messages should be left on the office voice mail at 541-535-1529.
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 at 541- 535-1529.
The District will continue to post our planned moss removal operations on our website at www.talentid.org. Please 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.
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 (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 of the 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 Reclamation.
Reclamation will be auditing the last 6 years of forms in the District office in July.
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, 2014 the District mailed out the annual charges.
April 1, 2014 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 1, 2014 the Board of Directors reviews the list of all delinquent accounts.
October 1, 2014 all delinquent accounts which owe fifty dollars ($50.00) 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 12:00 p.m. on Friday, November 14, 2013. The additional charge added to each account that has a lien filed on it is currently $205.00 per tax lot.
November 17, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. the “Notice of Lien Claim” is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County, Oregon.
January 15, 2015 any accounts owing fees from 2012 that have 3 liens filed against their property will have foreclosure proceedings initiated by the District’s attorney.
April 1, 2015 any properties who have failed to pay their 2014 irrigation charges in full, will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property until their delinquent 2013 and any prior year’s charges (if applicable) are paid in full.
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.
Bear Creek Watershed (TMDL) Implementation Program
The District is in the 5th year of the reporting program for the Bear Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Program.
We are now working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop a five year plan outlining what projects or operational changes the District can do to improve water quality. The District will be reviewing the proposed five year plan in a meeting with DEQ in May.
As budget funds allow, the District continues to pipe small sections of our open canals which reduces water temperatures and aquatic weed growth. In some instances this allows us to provide gravity pressure irrigation to our water users which in turn allows the land owners to convert from flood irrigation to sprinkler irrigation which dramatically reduces runoff and eventually will end up back in the local creeks.
If you would like more information on the Bear Creek TMDL Implementation Plan you can visit the Rogue Valley Council of Governments website at http://www.rvcog.org and click on the Natural Resources link.
WATER CONSERVATION PLAN UPDATE
All irrigation districts in Oregon are required to have up-to-date Water Conservation Plans. The District’s original Water Conservation Plan was developed and approved by the Oregon Water Resources Department and the Bureau of Reclamation in 2001. State law requires that the plan be updated every 5 years, however due to the Endangered Species Act Consultation Process which took more than 10 years to complete TID was granted extensions that have allowed us to have our plan updated by December 2015.
The District has hired David Newton of Newton Consultants, Inc. to assist with the update. The update of the plan has been split over a period of two years. Not only does it allow the District to devote more time to the update, it also gives the District another irrigation season to address the effects of the minimum flow requirements that were implemented as a condition of the Rogue Basin Biological Opinion. These flows not only affect the irrigation season, they affect the District all year long by requiring releases out of Emigrant Dam and requiring that the District not divert a portion of the water that has been traditionally diverted to increase the winter storage in Howard Prairie.
WISE PROJECT UPDATE
Spring is here so it is time for another update on the WISE Project. First a quick reminder about what WISE is. The main goals of the project are to improve irrigation reliability and availability while improving water quality in the streams. This will be accomplished through piping the canals, increasing storage at Agate Reservoir, potentially using reclaimed water from the treatment plant for irrigation, and pumping water from the Rogue River that was released from Lost Creek Reservoir.
In the past year a Cost Benefit Analysis has been drafted and will be revised over the summer. Preliminary numbers show that there will be enough pressure in the proposed closed pipe infrastructure to provide at least 30 psi throughout the system while still generating significant hydropower. This will allow irrigators to irrigate with higher efficiency systems without an electric bill. However, those who wish to continue to flood irrigate will be able to do so.
The Bureau of Reclamation, as Lead Agency, has initiated the Feasibility Study (FS) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the piping portion of the WISE Project. Funds were provided through the Oregon State Legislature as a result of the Oregon Solutions process. The FS should be completed by the of summer 2015. While this is going on, WISE is working to develop a funding and financing plan.
That is still a long ways away with many hurdles to get past. There will be opportunities for public input into the FS and NEPA plans and these will be announced on the TID website well in advance. If you have any questions please call the WISE Project Manager, Steve Mason at 541-951-0854.
REMINDER OF THE DANGERS THAT IRRIGATION CANALS CAN POSE TO PEOPLE AND ANIMALS
Canals contain water that is quickly moving. Fast-moving water in a narrow channel can knock a person off their feet. Even water that is only a foot deep, if it is moving fast enough, would cause you to lose your balance and be carried away.
Debris (trash and garbage) and dangerous things can be found in canals.
Canals have steep slopes and slippery walls. The concrete or earthen sides of ditches and canals are sometimes steep and possibly slippery, making them difficult to climb out.
Canals have grates, culverts and spillways. If a person were to fall into a water-filled ditch or canal, additional hazards include becoming caught up in or striking an object or structure. This may cause someone to become submerged and/or lose consciousness.
Even though canal water may look calm and slow-running, its undercurrent may be very fast.
Kids building dams or people throwing debris in the canals or ditches for fun can cause extensive damage that requires expensive repairs. Anyone who is caught throwing debris into the canals or ditches that results in property damage can be held liable for all costs.
If there is a canal near by, be sure there are barriers or fences between your family and the canal.