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Arnold Irrigation piping project comment period extended to Friday; upset residents raise objections

(Update: Adding comment by critic)

Variety of issues raised by opponents

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Anyone looking to weigh in on the Arnold Irrigation District's draft plan to pipe more than 13 miles of its main canal now has until this Friday to submit comments.

The plan has upset many area residents, some of whom take advantage of the canal’s wildlife benefits. Pat Pease loves the trees in her yard.

"They're just beautiful,” she said Tuesday. “They provide a lot of shade. They have owls that come here in the night."

But just like many trees along the canal that runs south of Bend and through the city, they may be going away.

"They don't make trees like this any more," Pease said.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is taking public comments on a proposal to pipe 13.2 miles of the canal. The district says it would save more than 10,000 acre-feet of water per year, which could be returned to the Wickiup Reservoir.

Lauren Bennett, Public Affairs Officer for NRCS. Oregon, told NewsChannel 21, "We've extended the public comment period through July 23rd, based on public request. We've received a lot of comments so far on impacts to the watershed, fish and wildlife, property values, to trees."

And some residents, like Pease in Woodside Ranch, aren't happy.

"Because we all benefit from the wildlife and greenery and everything the canal provides us," she said.

Mark Elling, who lives in the Sholes neighborhood, said it's even bigger than that.

"It's not about property ownership on a canal,” Elling said. “It's about being concerned about our favorite stretch of the upper Deschutes, and it's in everybody's backyard."

His concerns center around the wooden flume, used to divert water from the Deschutes River into the canal. Under the plan, it would get replaced by an elevated pipe.

"This highlighted section is the thing they use to describe what they plan to do to the flume," Elling said, pointing to a single paragraph in the 200-page draft plan.

He said a plan could ruin stretches of rapids near Lava Island Falls.

“If they don’t take care in this area of the river, there’s a chance that they could dump enough fill into the right channel of Lava Island Falls rapid," Elling said. "That’s a world-class stretch of experts-only whitewater. And it will never be fixed, if that happened.”

Both Elling and Pease suggested lining the canal as an alternative to piping it. Elling said lining it could stop about 70 percent of the seepage from the current canal which is more than 100 years old. The remaining 30 percent of seepage is needed to support the plants and trees on the edge of the canal.

Arnold Irrigation declined to comment on the project until the public comment period ends, the comments are addressed and the draft plan is amended.

The draft plan can be viewed here.

You can submit public comment on the USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service's website.

Here's the initial public comment announcement from last month on the proposed $47 million project:

Bend / Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Top Stories / video - DO NOT USE
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.



    1. Agreed. These folks just dont want to lose their “riverfront” property. Open canals are amazingly inefficient, especially in deserts (Cant believe I am even having to say that.).

    1. Yes its typical rural maga oregon, blaming the .government for everything but wanting them to do everything for free too, no wonder we are known for “poverty with a view”

      1. Anon,

        You are not quite as ignorant as Tio, but close.

        Why when all the Bernie/Biden loving folks on Old Deschutes/Scottsdale got their canal designated as “historic” nobody, including KTVNN said a word.


        1. My understanding of DRW leads me to believe you are stirring and empty pot when you try to claim its a hotbed of liberalism. And I know you are doing that when you try to make that claim about the Scottsdale area.

      2. It’s not the MAGA folks that are against pipng, it’s the nimbys who want to claim to be environmentalists. There are lots of big old pondis out there, just not in her backyard.The canals are ther to convey irrigation water, not be someone’s water feature. Pipe them.

      3. Really Don’t think Woodside ranch is “rural” Bend. And not sure how politics have any play into someone’s thoughts on their yards.

        Also, the “poverty with a view” is a Dead Horse, and has been for the 30 years it’s been used here. We can all MOVE as it’s been so eloquently been stated here.

      4. The fact that you put a political spin on this subject, shows how intellectually deficient you truly are. Get a friend, you need one, and get out of grandmas basement once, and a while. Sheesh.

  1. Quote: “due to its impacts, environmental concerns and the burial of a historic wooden flume. ”

    Translation: Richie Rich doesn’t want to lose their “riverfront” property and free livestock water access.

    Open canal irrigation is terrible and inefficient. Especially in a desert, and ESPECIALLY in drought conditions.

    Pipe it.

    1. Richie Rich?! Bahahahahaha!!!! Guess you haven’t been to DRW. Granted, like all of Bend it’s getting gentrified, but they are surely not rich.

    1. Agreed. This is clearly one of the easiest ways for us to save a precious resource. Pipe the water.
      Love your trees and using this as your argument, then do what most people do, water them out of our own faucets and pay for the water. I live just a few acres shy of the local ditch and have no water rights. Still have lovely trees, we just pay for the water.
      And in a perfect world nobody would get water rights unless they produced something.

      1. Here’s a dirty little secret the media doesn’t want to tell you. Farmers use 93-96% of all water. People in cities trying to conserve water does very little to actually saving water, no matter how much the media keeps trying to push it. Want to know how to save the most water? Force farmers to go to drip irrigation.

        1. Jefferson County is the number one producer of carrot seed in the world, producing close to 85%. Not only do they use drip irrigation, they also reuse the system year after year. Can we have some water now please.

            1. Ok. Read the article from the link. Are you then advocating all the trash, tumbleweeds, and burnt weeds from ditch bank clean up be pushed into the Deschutes? Personally I’m against that.
              Because it seems your point is we should be saving water, and if so I have a recommendation….How about we pipe all the canals!

              1. Obviously not flushing the trash into any waterway. How about sending their crew out to pile and burn weeds in their main canal before watering up. There is no physical way to push that debris into the Deschutes. And yes, they should all be piped but, in the meantime, NUID shouild quit the archaic practice of flushing and wasting water.

        2. How about we just do away with the farmers, and we just grow food for ourselves.
          Here is a dirty little secret, 93-96% of you couldn’t do it.

    1. Hahaha, pipe the rivers too. So the residents of that area must be MAGA lovin climate change deniers. Probably anti vaxxers too. Right lib Joe’s.

  2. There is no reason that the Irrigation district can not safely remove many of the trees and re plant them onto adjacent property. I’m the event they can not save all the trees, we must require them to plant at least three native trees for each one they cut down. It is the correct environmental thing to do.

    1. Actually, most of the Ponderosa Pines growing along the canals would be invasive due to the lack of water in the natural habitat without the canals.

    2. or you could lead a volunteer team to do the replanting? wonder what you will plant? invasive species such as juniper that can survive the desert environment? uhhh really?

  3. In the midst of historic drought, water lost in unprecidented amounts must be slowed. So put in some watering fonts along the system for animals,. And save the water for food production, get real, no water, no food

  4. We will not be in a drought forever and I, for one do not think piping the canal for 13 miles will save that much water. The canals support wildlife and plants and trees. That will all die off and be tinder for fires then. I am completely against piping any of the canals. It is also a great beauty mark for the area, people love to see the water running thru the canals.

    1. you need to do some research on the ground seepage along the open ditches as well as evaporation loss., The water was never about beauty, it was about crops and livestock. Your river is not a river, it is a necessary conduit for water and the amount lost is critical. Your belief that the drought is short lived is denial of the reality of climate change. surely you must be a transplant

    2. What do the animals do the rest of the year, you know, when the canal is dry? They survive by going and getting water elsewhere.
      Often people against piping want “their” deer or similar as an ornament for their yard and without the canals they know they will go to the river/spring/lake to get their water. This is reasonable, just like larger animals do from October-April.
      I grew up next to a ditch. It was piped in the early 80’s, as one of the first projects for NUID. Guess what, there are more deer there now. There are also more skunks and foxes. Go figure.

    3. Have you done any research to actually understand the amount of water being saved? The canals are not the cement canals people from California might think they are. Different parts of these 13 miles will have different rates of leakage, but some will be in very porous areas where substantial water is lost, and not lost by tree usage or similar.
      If you haven’t done any research you are giving an opinion which has little value. Read up, then tell us how much would be lost to seepage and evaporation, then tell us what you think/feel about that. That would have more weight with me and other readers here.

  5. HayhaCancel, Are you referring to the Scottsdale neighborhood over off of 18th street? They saved their canal by getting it labeled as “Historic”?? Wouldn’t they all be labeled as Historic? I’m not in Scottsdale but live off the same canal but they still talk about piping our section.

  6. Many individuals who are living on the canal’s are upset for very good reason. Some have lived on them for decades and are accustomed to the scenery, sounds etc and its part of their way of life. Others recently bought their homes along side these canals and paid significantly more money for their homes to be on the water and many of them were never told that the canals would be piped. So I can understand their frustration as well. These canals are old and historic. They have a lot of stories to tell and do support the ecosystem now. water seepage in the desert is not a bad thing. These have been around for 100 plus years. our area has adapted to the water they provide. I’m curious, what will happen to the land once they pipe them? I know they wont be able to build homes or other structures over where they pipe them but there is a lot of land adjacent to the canals that is easement.

    1. So what do the irrigation district customers (you know, the people that pay for the system and the water) have to say about piping?

      Maybe the canal neighbors should offer to pay for some of the expense of that water in the irrigation district owned and operated canal system.

      1. I like this idea.
        This year most farms planted half their normal crops. I wonder if people along the canals would be willing to pay half of their livelihood to support farmers. Because if we don’t get water to farmers and they continue to pay the cost of our “scenic” views of irrigation water, if we don’t make the changes needed to grow our food, the cost of food is going to continue to rise and rise.
        It’s irrigation water folks. Not your private scenic way.

  7. Seepage amount is estimated at 1-4% and shade from a healthy tree canopy reduces that. Seepage loss is the problem. Concrete canal lining methods stop 70% of seepage to keep water in Wickiup reservoir, keep a 100-year-old canal ecosystem alive and work better for agricultural irrigators—with less cost (both human and $) of a pipeline.

  8. There’s trees just as big and old all over Jefferson County on property owned by people that actually paid for the water rights getting ready to die. Farmers are not stupid, we already conserve water and have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to prove it, not just drip irrigation that creates more plastic trash. Our whole lives depend on this water that WE paid for. And actually your lives to do. People watch a few propaganda videos, then think they know the environment and all about farming. Until you are outside 365 days of the year assessing every little thing, trying to work with nature, you don’t know the environment. Our country will not survive if we don’t have farmers/ranchers. People in the cities can not sustain themselves. I don’t care if you like to look at the water, I do too. The only thing I’m concerned about is the wildlife losing access to it. But we have to save this one frog, everything else be damned.

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