By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Two local irrigation districts, Arnold and Lone Pine, have shut off water to hundreds of farms, and other districts are reducing deliveries due to the drought.
It’s almost been two weeks since the water was shut off in the Arnold Irrigation District in southeast Bend and already many fields are more brown than green. The situation will not improve until Sept. 15 when water deliveries might resume.
“I have 20 acres,” Mike Penhollow said. “I run about 30 cows and some horses. I raise my own hay here. The water is essential to take care of my property.”
Without water, Penhollow won’t get a second cutting of hay which means he’ll have to buy something he normally grows himself and pay handsomely for it.
“I think it’s up to around $250, $280 per ton,” he said. “So you are looking at $2,000 to $2,500.”
Across the road, Marvin Wodtli is babying a first-year crop of lavendar through the water shut off.
He spent more than $100,000 converting a hayfield into lavendar from which he’s harvesting his first crop of essential oil.
“I could end up losing plants,” Wodtli said. “I think I’m going to be fine this year. I might have to haul some water before the irrigation water comes back on.”
Wodtli said it costs $160 to have 3,000 gallons of water delivered and that isn’t enough to irrigate his crop once.
He may have to pay for multiple water deliveries, a cruel irony for a farmer who invested in state-of-the-art drip irrigation water conservation strategies.
“I’ve cut my watering back so I sustain enough moisture that the plants stay alive, but not waste anything to try to make it through this month-long period of time,” Wodtli said.
Many farmers have stock ponds which are, essentially, man-made lakes they use to store water when irrigation systems are open and flowing.
Now that the water is shut off, farmers in the Arnold and Lone Pine irrigation districts are relying on their stored reserves.
The question is how long can they hold out.