2020 Fall Water Supply Update

August 10, 2020

Water Supply Update

On July 1, 2020, Governor Brown signed Executive Order 20-31 declaring a drought emergency in Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes counties.  The drought declaration cites dry conditions, low snowpack, lack of precipitation, and forecasted water supplies that are not expected to improve. Regionally, some of the lowest storage levels recorded in area reservoirs along with continued hot and dry weather, have only exacerbated the supply conditions. According to the U.S. drought monitor, portions of the tri-counties area are currently in a state of severe to extreme drought.


Last month, the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) estimated Arnold (AID) and Lone Pine (LPID) Irrigation Districts would be out of natural river flow and possibly stored water, before the end of the 2020 irrigation season.  AID and LPID will likely be out of water beginning next week. Last week, OWRD released an updated Deschutes Basin Storage Report for the period of July 16 – 31. The second half of July proved to be worse than OWRD anticipated with natural flow being extremely low. As a result, four districts (AID, LPID, Tumalo ID, and North Unit ID) are all relying on stored water at this time.


NUID has and continues to monitor supply conditions very closely.  That said, given supply forecasts, the district could potentially see modified operations, similar to 2018, as we enter into the fall irrigation season.


The outlook for basin irrigators could change if other districts that hold senior priority dates reduce the amount of water they are diverting. Changes in regional weather (cooler, wetter) patterns could also benefit basin irrigators going into the final days of the irrigation season.  On September 15, natural flow rates for irrigation diverters on the Deschutes River system change, making portions of natural flow water available for junior water right holders. Further, on October 1, Central Oregon ID will shut off to begin construction on a large pipeline project. That shut off will allow NUID to carry on with normal district operations and deliveries into October.


The NUID board and management appreciates all the efforts our patrons have made to conserve water. We thank you in advance for your understanding during this exceedingly difficult season.


Photo credit to Marisa Hossick