By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Both the drought and an endangered species has forced a second local irrigation district to shut down.
The Lone Pine Irrigation District, which serves 20 patrons who farm 2,300 acres near Terrebonne, shut down its diversion today. There will be no water delivered to farmers from that irrigation district for at least three weeks.
The district’s Terry Smith says, without water, there probably won’t be a second cutting of mint, a third cutting of hay and hemp crops may not mature, all of which could mean significant financial losses to farmers.
This is the first time the Lone Pine Irrigation District has been shut off.
“Lone Pine has a 1900 priority date which is a fairly senior priority date,” Jeremy Giffin, Deschutes Basin Watermaster, said. “That just goes to show the underlying condition of the basin which is we are extremely low on water right now. The natural flow of the Deschutes River is under 1,000 cubic feet per second and that’s something that rarely ever happens.”
Lone Pine Irrigation District has rights to live flow from the Deschutes River, which isn’t available right now.
It also has stored water in Crane Prairie Reservoir, but the district is forced to shut down because it agreed to leave 5,000 acre feet of stored water in Crane Prairie for the Oregon Spotted Frog.
Smith said if they had access to that stored water, the district would have enough to make it through the summer.
Lone Pine is the second district to shut off water and may not be the last. The Arnold Irrigation District in Bend shut down August 14.
“We are actually running out of supplies in the storage facilities so we are starting to see shut offs,” Giffin said. “That’s how the system is meant to be, it’s just we rarely get into situations where we have to shut off districts. We usually can make it to the end of summer.
Lone Pine Irrigation District hopes to resume partial water deliveries Sept. 15 when, in the past, natural flows on the Deschutes River typically rise. Whether that will happen this year is uncertain.
(In the attached graphic, the Lone Pine Irrigation District appears in red.)