ARE PATRONS STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR FULL ASSESSMENTS WHEN THE IRRIGATION DISTRICT IS UNABLE TO DELIVER WATER ALLOTMENTS BECAUSE OF WATER SHORTAGES?
Yes, Irrigation Districts can only deliver the water that is available and patrons remain responsible for their full water assessments even if deliveries have to be reduced or eliminated during the irrigation season. Pursuant to the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Chapter 545, the owners of lands susceptible to irrigation may form an Irrigation District to deliver available water to its patrons, as did the owners within Tumalo Irrigation District. The year-round costs to manage and operate a water delivery system are virtually the same whether or not the District is able to meet its patron’s certificated water right allotments during the irrigation season. Annual assessments are based on a “computation of the total amount of money necessary to be raised by the district for the ensuing year for the purpose of carrying out the Irrigation District law.” Even if mother nature does not provide sufficient water to allow the District to meet the needs of its patrons, as occurred in 2020, 2021 and 2022, the District patrons are still required to pay their assessments by the due date so the District is able to continue to operate and deliver water when it again becomes available. Non-payment of assessments can result in a lien against the owner’s land and eventual foreclosure whether irrigation water is delivered or not.
As Tumalo Irrigation District works through the current severe drought conditions, we are doing our very best to maximize the deliveries to our patrons. We appreciate all of our patrons help and understanding as we work through this.