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Tumalo landowners sue irrigation district in bid to block piping project

A group of Tumalo landowners suing the Tumalo Irrigation District has created a "Stop the Pipe" website as part of their attempt to garner public support and block a $42 million canal piping project. As an alternative to stopping the project, the landowners seek financial damages of approximately $250,000 per property, with estimated collective damages into the millions. 

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Ben Steen

Benjamin Steen is a photojournalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Ben here.



  1. So they are upset their wasteful water feature is being taken underground and they can no longer inflate their property values over it? And they have decided to try and blackmail the water district?
    Or because they live on the canal and see first hand the benefit the canal is to the environment and animals around it they are trying to make people aware? Just out of curiosity… we may call it a canal but Mother Nature would just see it as a river and a source of life to the area that surrounds it. Has the impact of removing a river and turning the area to desert been studied?

    1. They’ve been taking water from open ditches and piping since the later 1970’s when they figured how much EVAPORATION was happening, as well as ground loss. Some ground loss is definitely going to surrounding ground, but majority of these water canals, especially the big ones, are on top of basalt. When located on basalt most water is going straight down, not to surrounding land. Holding ponds are a different story.
      BTW. My home area canal was ditched in 1980. Smaller canal, definitely leakage including a neighboring field that never had to water. They usually test the actual water flow, loss of water due to evaporation and ground loss. This guides in part which water ditch/canal needs done when.. Don’t get me started on the water wasted south of Jefferson county by folk who have water but don’t grow/produce anything that is shared with the rest of us. That is the elephant in the room we don’t talk enough about.

    2. A river? Rather an artificial river, constructed, pumped, maintained, and paid for, for the simple purpose of irrigating agricultural fields. While aesthetics and wildlife enhancement may be side benefits of the canal, I seriously doubt that the enabling legislation creating irrigation districts includes it. And I seriously doubt that the irrigation district gets any monetary support from abutting properties without irrigation water rights.

  2. Real Madras farmers don’t get their water, but the rich tumalo folk need their ornamentals. Judge needs to throw this lawsuit out like the last one. Guess it’s back to drilling holes in the pipe for these entitled Californias.

    1. My family home lost two property sides of canal on a ditch that went piped. Did I like it. Nope. Was it my water. Nope. Was it the right thing for NUID to do. Yep. Did I complain about it and throw a fit. Nope.
      What about the trees people ask, guess what, we put our own water on them because that was fair too. What about the deer and animals, there is plenty of water in the summer around farmers ponds and irrigation tributaries. Winter, well, we put in a pond with a water bubbler so water won’t freeze. Keep it running year round, even though irrigation water ONLY runs part of the year. Guess what? We paid for it ourselves and pay for the water ourselves. Not that much. Right thing, we felt to do.
      At the end of the day we had a beautiful water feature where the animals drop by if they need it, including a great heron who eats koi in the spring. Ended up being a win win win.
      It’s not your water, your canal. Find a solution for the complaints you have and fix it yourself. Suing over something that isn’t yours is a total city thing to do. You’re living in the country now. Act like it.

  3. The irrigation district could figure out how much water is wasted through infiltration and evaporation, and offer the ability to those property owners to purchase water rights to enjoy the visual amenity.

    1. Except the water wasted is gone, regardless of the paltry sum someone ends up paying for the fancy water feature. A water feature that is in actuality an infrastructure project to get water from the Cascade Mountains to the arid farm fields of Central Oregon. You know, to feed people.

      1. I totally agree with you about the purpose of the canal (see my comment to BigD above). When it comes to “wasted” water though, what infiltrates doesn’t disappear – it becomes groundwater, which can be pumped by those with wells, or seeps into abutting fields. My point is, if someone likes their pretty water feature they should pay the purveyor for it, and pay the going rate at that (assuming they can obtain water rights). If they realized what the real price is then maybe they’d have second thoughts.

    2. Why do people (you in this case) spout off about something you’re clearly completely ignorant about? Are you an irrigation patron? How exactly do you propose they test this? Are you not aware that this is high desert and extremely dry, thus tremendous evaporation? Is it news to you that the soil here is just volcanic dust? You must have just moved here, thats the only explanation.

      1. You really don’t understand what I commented about. You might want to talk to a local irrigation district about infiltration and evaporation rates, and costs to the consumers (i.e. ranchers and farmers), which is why they’re spending millions of dollars for piping. In the meantime I’d suggest that you just keep peddling on…quietly.

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