IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON THE DROUGHT
As of May 1, 2015 the individual reservoir capacities were as follows:
Howard Prairie: 25,239 acre feet or 41%
Hyatt Lake: 6,967 acre feet or 43%
Emigrant Lake: 33,931 acre feet or 87%
Overall we are at about 57% of pooled capacity which is roughly 69% of normal for this time of year.
As you are well aware, we are all facing a drought situation again this year. The District’s current water supply is very comparable to this same time last year. The main difference is the location of the water supply. Emigrant Lake storage is up considerably, however Howard Prairie and Hyatt Lake are considerably lower. The extremely dry winter and spring, and fisheries requirements have all impacted the reservoir storage again this year. There is very little to no 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 moss removal operations will continue throughout the season. As everyone has experienced in the last several years, the use of mechanical moss removal 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 piping or lining your ditches with plastic or some type of waterproof membrane. 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 and repair or replace sprinkler heads to keep them operating efficiently. Adequate maintenance will improve efficiency, guard against water loss and avoid shutdowns.
At this time we are estimating the water supply should make it into approximately the last week of September. 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:
East Canal (Upper Portion)
East Canal (Lower Portion)
West Canal and McDonald System
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.
Update on Proposed District Projects and Awarded Grant Funds
Talent Canal Upgrades
The District applied for and has been awarded grant funds through the Bureau of Reclamation totaling $1 million dollars for upgrades to the Talent Main Canal beginning at Oak Street in Ashland and going downstream.
For several years the District has applied and continues to apply for matching grant funds from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to fund the other half of the upgrade project on the Talent Main Canal. We recently found out, yet again, that we were not selected to receive any of the OWEB funding. Grant Award for East Main Canal Upgrades
The District applied for grant funds through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Water Conservation Field Services Program for lining a section of the East Main Canal near Suncrest and Payne Road. This is a high seepage area and lining it will conserve a significant amount of water. The grant is for $16,043.40 and the District will match those funds with in- kind services installing the lining.
Biological Opinion Implementation (ESA Section 7 Consultation)
Redd Protection Plan
Earlier this spring, the Bureau of Reclamation submitted the revised Redd Protection Plan to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). There has not been any response so far from NMFS on the revised plan. However, the District has been operating under the new conditions of the revised plan for water releases.
As a requirement of the Rogue Basin Biological Opinion, the Bureau of Reclamation has contracted with the Freshwater Trust of Oregon to complete riparian habitat and stream restoration projects on the South Fork of Little Butte Creek, Lone Pine Creek, Bear Creek and Neil Creek. Reclamation’s contract with the Freshwater Trust totals $1 million.
It is important to remember that the District does not have any input into the work the Freshwater Trust is doing for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Oak Street Fish Passage
The Bureau of Reclamation is in the process of awarding a contract to replace the Talent Canal diversion in Bear Creek at Oak Street in Ashland. This project is scheduled to begin around July 15th or so and is expected to be completed in a very short construction window. This should not interfere with diversions to the Talent Canal. Reclamation’s cost for this project totals $1.6 million.
Ashland Creek Diversion Removal
The Bureau of Reclamation is required to have the Ashland Creek Diversion near Oak Street removed to provide fish passage, no later than this fall.
Update on Klamath Adjudication Process
The process continues to move forward through the court system in Klamath County. As previously reported, the Talent, Medford and Rogue River Valley irrigation districts hired an attorney through the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. to monitor the proceedings to protect our water rights in the Rogue Valley.
(For more detailed history on these matters please review past newsletters on the District website.)
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, purchasing additional property, 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.
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, 2015 the District mailed out the annual charges.
April 1, 2015 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, 2015 the Board of Directors reviews the list of all delinquent accounts.
October 1, 2015 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 13, 2015. The additional charge added to each account that has a lien filed on it is currently $214.00 per tax lot.
November 16, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. the “Notice of Lien Claim” is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County, Oregon.
January 15, 2016 any accounts owing fees from 2013 that have 3 liens filed against their property will have foreclosure proceedings initiated by the District’s attorney.
April 1, 2016 any properties who have failed to pay their prior year’s irrigation charges in full, will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property until their delinquent account is paid in full.
Bear Creek Watershed (TMDL) Implementation Program
The District is in the 6th year of the reporting program for the Bear Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Program.
We worked with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and developed a five year plan outlining what projects or operational changes the District can do to improve water quality. The District received a letter from DEQ dated August 14, 2014 approving the plan.
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 that would eventually 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
As we previously reported, 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 of 2015.
The drought contingency portion of the plan has been completed and the contractor is continuing to update the rest of the plan as scheduled.
WISE PROJECT UPDATE
The WISE Project, Water for Irrigation, Streams and Economy, is an irrigation infrastructure modernization project with the goals of improving irrigation reliability, availability and improving stream water quality and flow. The Project is evaluating piping the entire Rogue River Basin Irrigation Project (plus or minus 300 miles) in the Rogue Valley as well as taking advantage of the hydropower potential and additional sources of water in the region.
Currently the project is in the planning stage. The Bureau of Reclamation is leading the development of a Feasibility Study and NEPA evaluation with a completion date scheduled in February of 2017. Concurrently, a Cost Benefit Analysis is in the internal draft stage with a completion date of May 2015. The Feasibility work will include an evaluation of the entire system and include an estimated cost as well as estimates of the improvement in irrigation water reliability and availability. There is a long list of details that have to be addressed through the Feasibility Study process including determining new alignments where feasible, developing a solution to urban stormwater management currently relying on the existing canal infrastructure, and analyzing the distribution of water throughout the system in a variety of water year types.
The WISE Project Board is coordinating with local, state and federal sources for funding and financing of the project so that there will be no delays if it goes to the construction phase in 2019.
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.