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Swalley Irrigation plans to finish piping canals in 7 years

Deschutes Tumalo confluence Marisa Hossick
Marissa Chappell Hossick
Confluence of the Deschutes River and Tumalo Creek

Now underway: three-mile project north of Bend

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Swalley Irrigation District said Monday it has an ambitious plan to complete piping all of its canals and modernize its system in the next seven years, to the benefit of fish habitat and water users alike.

Improving flows in the Middle Deschutes is an important goal for the Deschutes River Conservancy, the nonprofit said in a news release.

Situated downstream from irrigation diversions, flows in this reach of the river drop from 700 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the winter to 135 cfs when irrigation canals start to run in the summer. With higher resulting water temperatures in the summer, aquatic habitat declines affecting native fish populations.

The Rogers Lateral Pipeline Project is the latest project in Swalley’s projected system improvement plan. Well under way and scheduled to be completed in April, in time for the irrigation season, the project is replacing a leaky and high-maintenance three-mile canal with a state-of-the-art 24-inch pressure pipeline and 53 high-tech water meters.

The project begins near Cooley Road and generally runs north for about three miles next to the Old Bend-Redmond Highway..

The benefit to water users:  less maintenance, more reliable water, and pressurized water which will empower irrigators to replace costly pumps and upgrade to more efficient watering techniques.  

When Swalley has finished piping the remaining nine miles of canals in the north end of its district, they will have conserved around 56 cfs total, meaning that their overall consumption from the river will have dropped by 55%.

Stated another way, over half of Swalley’s original water right will be returned instream. The district said its vision is to be 100% efficient, which will open the door for countless on-farm improvements and even more conservation.

Jer Camarata, Swalley Irrigation District Manager: “When the Rogers Project is complete this April, we will have piped almost 70% of our entire District, saving 45 cubic feet per second – or more than 20,000 gallons per second. Flows in the Middle Deschutes will greatly be enhanced forever and water users will have all the water they need. That’s a not-to-distant future that makes us excited.”

Todd Taylor, President of Taylor NW, the construction company contracted for the project: “Water has and will continue to be the one natural resource all Central Oregonians value and prioritize. Swalley, along with other local irrigation districts, continue to lead the efforts in preservation of this natural resource which enhances full utilization for all agriculture needs throughout the region.”    

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Environment / Top Stories

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