By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The Tumalo Irrigation District has plans to replace a stretch of water canals in Tumalo with pipelines.
Irrigation District Manager Ken Rieck said it will make transferring water to Tumalo farms cheaper and more efficient.
“The farmers benefit because it improves the stability of the water flows in a pipeline rather than an open ditch and it can deliver pressurized flows,” Rieck said.
The irrigation district has been replacing more than 60 miles of canals with pipes since the 1990s.
Replacing another four and a half miles of canals is scheduled to begin in late November.
“These projects are not so much a choice,” Rieck said. “It was really unsustainable the way we were doing this.”
But not everyone agrees with the district’s plan.
In March, eight property owners filed a lawsuit against the project, citing environmental concerns.
“Even though the riparian habitat around the canals is not natural, it’s been there for 100 years and it’s quite a rich wildlife,” Matt Smith, a Tumalo resident and a plaintiff on the lawsuit, said. “There’s a lot of mature ponderosa pines that will be chopped down or die.”
In September, they asked a federal judge for a temporary restraining order to stop the project before it can get started.
“I feel like those guys really have no other option, otherwise construction will begin and trees will be chopped down,” Smith said. “So they had no option really but to apply for that injunction.
The hearing for the injunction is scheduled for next month.