With the historic drought and lack of available water for the District, two options for the upcoming irrigation season were discussed for when Tumalo Creek water runs out. We plan to deliver 70% to the entire district until the end of June, and hope to have enough water to do a 7-day on, 7-day off rotation (as we did last year) for the month of July. This will only be for the month of July. By August, we will have to choose one of the two options listed in the survey that was sent out last month. The survey contained the two scenarios that the District had discussed as workable options for the upcoming season: 1) turn off the system in August when the amount of water does not allow for a 7-day on, 7-day off rotation like last year or 2) change the rotation schedule to a 7-day on and 14-day off rotation and run into September before shutting off. As of the April 12th board meeting, the results of the returned post cards were 91 to 87, with 91 votes for Option #1 and 87 votes for Option #2. The Board listened to suggestions from the board meeting guests and discussed the options.
It was determined that the best option would be to deliver 70% to the entire district beginning April 18th until Tumalo Creek runs out. At that time switch to a 7-day on, 7-day off rotation (like last year) until August. Then the rotation will switch to the 7-day on, 14-day off rotation and run into September.
It was noted that starting the season later does not mean we are able to run water longer. The water we deliver in the beginning of the season comes from Tumalo Creek, which is a live flow and is fully dependent on the past year’s snowpack. If we don't take the Tumalo Creek water, it will just stay in-stream and travel to the Colombia river. Every year when Tumalo Creek snow melt runs out, we switch from Tumalo Creek water to storage water from Crescent Lake. Unfortunately, because of the relatively small drainage area around Crescent Lake, the lake is slow to fill and is mostly filled with spring runoff from the snowpack, which at this time is below average and the lake is not refilling as quickly as it has in past years. This is the reason that we now must resort to a rotation, there is not enough water in the reservoir to deliver to all patrons for a full season. It was also explained that we need enough “carry water” in the system to get the water down to the end of the ditches and laterals, this is why we cannot reduce the flow to 50% and still deliver to the entire district. In order to stay in compliance with the Habitat Conservation Plan, during August and September the district will still have to let a small percentage of water out of Crescent Lake for the benefit of the Oregon spotted frog, therefore shutting down completely in August won’t save a significant amount of water.
Please note: We do not know yet which side the rotations will start on, or the exact day. We will notify patrons as soon as we have the answers to that. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this difficult time.