Happy New Year to all of our OID patrons! Welcome to 2022. As the New Year begins, your OID Board of Directors and Staff would like to invite you to attend our annual board meeting on Monday, January 17th at 12:00 pm. The meeting will include updates on finances, operations, maintenance, planning and direction for the upcoming year. In addition, we will discuss the current snowpack information and reservoir outlook for 2022.
Some of the highlights that we will be discussing in greater detail during the annual meeting include:
Infrastructure Modernization Project. The District has completed final designs for construction of new pump plants to replace the Main and Relift stations. We are currently out for bid on this project and hope to have a contractor identified in mid-February. Our intention is to begin construction following this water season and be complete before the 2023 irrigation season begins.
Title Transfer: The District has initiated the process to request title to all relevant federally owned Crooked River Project facilities located downstream of the main diversion on the Crooked River. OID paid off its original construction contract on this project and is now eligible to take ownership of these facilities; including, eight pump stations, canals, drains pipelines and property at the base of Ochoco Dam. For nearly 60 years OID has been responsible for operating and maintaining all these facilities and is now ready to assume ownership of what we have cared for all these years.
Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP): About this time last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued an incidental take permit to Ochoco Irrigation District. Year one implementation of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan is now complete. Historic drought contributed to some challenges in certain operations but in general we were able to meet our obligations.
Drought and Water Year Forecasts: Crook County continues to deal with impacts of an exceptional and prolonged drought. The US Drought Monitor shows all of Crook County as D4 (Exceptional Drought) in its December 30, 2021 map. (D4 is the highest level of drought on the scale) OID is actively monitoring precipitation and snow accumulation throughout the winter to help determine the anticipated reservoir storage for water year 2022. The early indications are encouraging; however we have a long way to go before we are able to make any projections. Planning for irrigation in 2022 should take into account the likelihood that water resources could be very short again this year.
Communication and Outreach: A common frustration shared by patrons concerns the lack of communication that OID provides to its water users. We have traditionally relied upon “snail” mail for a majority of District communication with this newsletter being one of the only communications patrons get besides their water bills. We are actively in the process of addressing that concern with some new ways for patrons to stay up to date:
- Text Notifications – You can sign up to get messages on your phone to notify you of special circumstances that are occurring in the District which might impact your operations. Examples include messages when pumps shut down or a canal is breached. Sign up by going to the website.
- New Website – We have developed a new website that we encourage you to visit. It is much improved with updated information and layout. ochocoid.org
- E-newsletters – Future newsletters will be available digitally. In addition to saving money it will allow us to provide more frequent communications.
- New Water Management Software – OID is implementing a new software system that will enhance our ability to manage water accounting as well as create a new patron portal on the website that will allow water users to monitor their orders and usage in real time. The first year will include only ride one (Properties located east of Barnes Butte) as an initial rollout. The remainder of the District will come onboard in 2023. Note that this is an optional tool. You are still welcome to call in orders or stop by the office for a visit.
- Newspaper Article – OID will be providing information to the Central Oregonian newspaper on a monthly basis to provide general information and updates with information important to farmers, ranchers and irrigators.
In conclusion, I’d like to extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to all our patrons who came together as a District to conserve water through one of the worst droughts on record. We are hopeful that the worst is behind us and that recent weather patterns persist to provide us with a more normal water supply in 2022. I will however be quick to remind folks that last year we had an average snowpack that turned out to be a dismal runoff. Should that happen for a third straight year we could be in for an even dryer year with a shorter season and lower water allocations.
I hope that you all will take advantage of the expanded opportunities provided for patrons to stay connected with OID this year and into the future. We have an exciting and eventful year ahead of us and I look forward to working with you all in the months ahead.
OCHOCO IRRIGATION DISTRICT