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Spotted frog deal would cost irrigation districts water


The upper Deschutes River will see higher water flows under a proposed settlement reached in two lawsuits filed by conservation groups seeking to even out flows and help the habitat for the Oregon spotted frog, a species listed as threatened..

While a federal judge weighs the proposed pact, irrigation districts in Central Oregon are coming up with plans to see how next year’s water releases will affect their farmers.

If approved, farmers will see less water for their crops next year, but they’re hoping for a strong snowpack that will work out for everyone.

“This is going to hurt us pretty bad,” Tumalo Irrigation District Manager Ken Rieck said Monday.

The Tumalo Irrigation District serve 670 farms in their area and relies on Tumalo Creek as their main water resource.

Among the concerns for farmers is whether they have to let some of their land go dry due to the settlement, Rieck said.

Tumalo Irrigation District said it will lose 40 percent of its water storage, which will be released to protect the Oregon spotted frog habitat.

Rieck said the district is hoping Mother Nature can help drench the soil with some more much-needed rain, as has been the case in recent weeks.

“Snowpack is always important, and it’s going to be more so, now that we’re releasing water to support the frogs,” he said.

Culver farmer Richard Macy said this new agreement gives both sides more time to look at ways for both farmers and the Oregon spotted frog to survive.

“This settlement doesn’t solve or give us the answer at this point. It’s an opportunity to continue operations,” Macy said.

Farmers also fear if the state goes into another drought, it could have some serious impacts on the farming community.

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