The district is accepting nominations for positions on its board of directors for Division One (1), in the north Agency Plains area, now being held by Phil Fine and one director for Division Two (2), in the area starting on the Agency Plains at Fir Lane to Eureka Lane, south of Metolius, and west of South Adams Drive, now being held by Michael Kirsch. A map of the divisions can be viewed at the district office or on the website at The terms begin January 1, 2021 and are for three years. To be eligible as a director a candidate must:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Be the owner of water right land situated within the boundaries of the District from their respective division.
  3. Be a resident of the State of Oregon.
  4. Must submit a petition, signed by 10 landowners with North Unit Irrigation District water rights, to the district office before 5:00 pm on the 8th of October 2020.  Petitions can be obtained from the district office or website.

If only one petition is received per division, that petitioner will be certified as having been nominated and elected for that division. The receipt of two or more petitions for a division will require an official election to be held November 10, 2020.


Michael E Britton


September 15, 2020 Water Supply Update and Modified Operations

September 15, 2020


From:  North Unit Irrigation District


To:  North Unit Irrigation District Waterusers


Subject:  September 15, 2020 Water Supply Update and Modified Operations


Just last week, as noticed in the Madras Pioneer, the District was optimistic it would not need to implement modified operations for the balance of the 2020 irrigation season.  Unfortunately, supply conditions have changed dramatically in a matter of days that will require the district to once again implement modified operations similar to those in September 2018.


The district anticipates the Crooked River and Deschutes River flows will taper off beginning this week/weekend resulting in insufficient supplies to maintain the delivery system and the drawdown of Haystack Reservoir.  As a result of these diminished supplies on Tuesday, September 22 the District will temporarily shut down deliveries to all patrons.  Water Orders will be taken until Sunday, September 20 for delivery on Monday, September 21.


Minimal flows will remain in the delivery system to keep the system “primed” but with no deliveries.  On Friday, October 2 the District anticipates Haystack to be filling/full again, picking up the additional natural flow in the Deschutes River.  The District believes this action will allow for another week or more of irrigation beginning on or about Saturday, October 3.  The District will begin taking water orders again on Friday, October 2 with anticipated deliveries on Saturday, October 3.  The District wants to remind patrons that the above operations are subject to ongoing review of supply conditions.


The District cannot emphasize enough that water only be used as necessary and not simply because water remains in a water users account.  In 2018, following a similar announcement, irrigation demand increased dramatically.  If that occurs during this effort it will cause the district to run out of water sooner and take longer to get the system recharged for an early October restart date.  The District also discourages the marketing of water to other patrons who have used their allotment.  Everyone’s cooperation is needed to extend the season.


Please contact the district office should you have any questions.

Considerations for the 2020 Season’s End

As the 2020 irrigation season winds down, it’s important to reflect upon where we started and how we’ve gotten to where we are today. And in light of these challenges, we continue our best efforts to look forward and to remember that supply conditions can change on a weekly, even daily basis, as supplies diminish.

It goes without saying that the lack of snow in the mountains from a dry winter and spring created conditions where “natural flow” in the Deschutes and Crooked systems has been and continues to be very poor at best. North Unit Irrigation District (NUID) began the irrigation season with Wickiup Reservoir at 141,000 acre-feet, the second-lowest irrigation season starting point on record. The lowest on record, many may recall, was last year’s (2019) starting level of 137,000 acre-feet.  And although NUID set allotments of 1.25 acre-feet per acre for Deschutes River lands and 0.60 acre-feet per acre for Crooked River lands there was concern whether those allotments could be met as the season progressed.

This meant yet another year where NUID relied heavily on storage from Wickiup Reservoir, which will again end up at very low levels by season’s end.

NUID began the 2020 irrigation season the first week of April to take advantage of early-season flows in the Deschutes system.  As a reminder, increased early season flows is an operational requirement to meet Oregon spotted frog biological conditions.  In addition to taking early Deschutes flows, NUID began early pumping of available flows in the Crooked River system in an attempt to conserve storage in Wickiup Reservoir for use later in the season.  As a result, NUID called on, and began pumping, its available stored water from Prineville Reservoir (10,000 acre-feet) beginning on April 14.  As an indicator of how poor natural flows in the basin have been, throughout the spring, when natural flows are often at their peak, the minimum bypass flows could not be met for periods of time in the Crooked River system simply because there was not enough natural flow in the river to meet minimum flow requirements.

Early warm weather in April and May created early snowmelt that exhausted much of the snow supply for the season – the snowmelt was rapid and early this year.  Early hydrologic indicators and outlooks predicted water shortages across much of Oregon for the 2020 summer including the Deschutes and Crooked River Basins.  The short periods of unseasonably warm temperatures combined with a below-average snow season meant significantly lower stream flows in many areas. This hydrologic scenario has played itself out over the past decade with more below average hydrologic years than average or above average years.  As a result, the region is seeing and experiencing the cumulative effects of these below-average snow and precipitation years.  The weak snowpack in recent winters is also depriving underground aquifers of the water needed to fully recharge streams and creeks, which fill up reservoirs and provide flow to rivers. To put this into perspective, we often look to the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE), which measures the relative snowpack storing water in our surrounding mountains, and is measured as a percent of the average snowpack, where 100% is equal to the historic average. The following are SWE values recorded during the second week of April from 2013-2020:  2013 81%, 2014 60%, 2015 13%, 2016 76%, 2017 128%, 2018 63%, 2019 106%, 2020 87%.

As of September 1, 91% of the state is under one form or another of a drought designation.  Some portions of the state, including Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes, are in extreme drought conditions with nearly half of Jefferson county is considered to be in extreme drought conditions. In June, Jefferson, Crook, and Deschutes counties applied for emergency drought status with the state, which in some cases can provide assistance and opportunity to individuals that may not have previously been available. Subsequently, emergency drought declarations were issued by Governor Brown on July 1 for all three counties.

Other than NUID, other irrigation districts in the basin did not feel the impacts of these hydrologic conditions until August 19 when Arnold Irrigation District was shut off – the first time since 1994 as their natural flow rights could not be met and their storage had been exhausted.  Similarly, Lone Pine Irrigation District was shut off on August 26 and Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) was forced to curtail its diversions in late August as well – a first in that district’s history.

All the above has made for another difficult irrigation season with limited supplies and less than favorable conditions throughout the season.  Considering current conditions, district water users are again advised to monitor ongoing supply conditions closely and regularly when considering late summer/early fall farm operations.

As of September 1, 2020, Wickiup Reservoir contains 13,500 acre-feet and has recorded record-low capacities throughout the entire 2020 irrigation season. With no foreseeable precipitation in the forecast, attempts will be made to ensure Haystack is kept at capacity in the event that modified district operations are necessary.  However, looking at all other current conditions, NUID is not anticipating the drawdown of Haystack and a district shutdown as long as the district’s demand remains low.

On September 15 of each year, the Deschutes natural flow water rights for senior water rights holders change, making portions of natural flow water available to junior water right holders. In addition, COID will be shutting down on October 1 to begin the construction of a pipeline project that could free up additional supplies to junior users.

As overwhelming as all this may sound, NUID continues to work with various interests to find additional supplies of water now and into the future.  Some of these efforts are as simple as installing Variable Frequency Drives and Programmable Controls at the Crooked River Pumping facility to capture water that would have otherwise passed by, to new or expanded reservoir storage facilities within and outside the district.  Other considerations NUID is working on including water marketing opportunities from senior districts where full allotments are not needed or wanted, wellfields near main canal locations as a supplemental supply, obtaining City of Bend wastewater, the relocation of the Crooked River Pumping Plant downstream to Lake Billy Chinook, and the possibility of basin districts merging to create flexibility in water management within the basin.  Lastly, NUID and COID have maintained close ties through all of this.  The project COID will begin on October 1 will create approximately 30 cfs that will be made available to NUID in the form of summer flow. The irrigation districts have obtained significant federal funding to finance large scale piping projects that will free up water and help meet commitments of the forthcoming Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan.  Needless to say, no matter how simple some of these solutions may seem, each has its own list of hurdles and challenges in becoming reality.




NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Board of Directors of North Unit Irrigation District will be conducting their monthly board meeting on September 8, 2020 at 7:00pm at the District office.  To view a copy of the meeting agenda, please go to


The September 8, 2020 Board Meeting was changed to 8:30 am due to COVID-19 social distancing measures.




NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Board of Directors of North Unit Irrigation District will be conducting their monthly board meeting on September 8, 2020 at 7:00pm at the District office.  To view a copy of the meeting agenda, please go to

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



Public Notice: Board Meeting Conducting via Teleconference

 The Board of Directors of the North Unit Irrigation District will hold their Regular Board of Directors Meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 7:00 P.M. at the Madras Municipal Airport 2028 NW Berg Dr, Madras, OR 97741. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, in-person attendance is allowed with strict limitations.  


Please contact the District Finance Manager at least 48 hours prior to the meeting time by phone at (541) 475-3625 or by email at for persons interested in attending the meeting.   Any submissions to the board of directors can be made in writing to the district within 48 hours of the board meeting. The agenda for this meeting will be posted on the District’s website at prior to the board meeting.

2020 Brings New HEMP Policies

Since its introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, federal and state policies regarding industrial hemp have increased in clarity and with it, our policies have formalized as well. Since North Unit Irrigation District is a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation project, our policies must align with state and federal guidelines.

In the June 2020 Board Meeting, the Board of Directors passed a resolution, updating the District’s policies regarding industrial hemp. This policy update can be found on our Operational Guidelines webpage through the Growing and Cultivating Industrial Hemp link.

For the most recent information regarding Oregon State Law, please refer to the Oregon Department of Agriculture 



The health and safety of our customers, employees, and the others we serve is of the utmost importance. As an organization, we are closely monitoring developments related to the Coronavirus and its potential impact across our service area. Following the Oregon Health Authority and Center for Disease Control recommendations, North Unit Irrigation District will be closing its office to the public for in-person services starting Monday, March 23, 2020. The closure will remain in effect until such time that appropriate conditions and measures are in place to ensure public health and safety.

Although the district office will be closed to the public, office staff will still be available to answer questions via telephone at 541.475.3625 and/or email at In-person meetings are available on a very limited basis and by appointment only. Please contact the district office at 541.475.3625 to schedule an appointment.

For customers wishing to make payments:
• A locked drop box will be available at the main entrance to the district office (2024 NW Beech St., Madras) for payments and other correspondence needing district attention.
• Pay by phone with a credit card by contacting the district office at 541.475.3625.
• Pay by e-check or credit card on-line at Click on the blue “Pay Online” button in the top righthand corner of the webpage and follow the instructions for payment.
(E-check and credit card payments are subject to transaction fees)

For customers wishing to submit RRA forms and other correspondence:
• Completed RRA forms and other correspondence needing district attention can be deposited in the locked drop box located at the main entrance to the district office.
• On a temporary basis completed and signed RRA forms can also be submitted via fax to 541.475.3905 or by email to

Currently, the district does not anticipate any interruptions to field operations or irrigation deliveries for the 2020 irrigation season.

District contact info:
Telephone: 541.475.3625 Fax: 541.475.3905
Address: 2024 NW Beech Street, Madras, OR, 97741



Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

2020 Allotment and Start-date!

At the regular North Unit Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting held on March 10, 2020 the board of directors set a tentative 2020 irrigation season start date for April 8.  Priming of the system will begin on or around April 1 with farm deliveries anticipated being available on April 8. In addition, the board reviewed current weather and water supply conditions and have set a water allotment of 1.25 acre-feet per acre for Deschutes River water right lands and .60 acre-feet per acre for Crooked River water right lands.  The district will continue to monitor weather and supply conditions throughout the season to determine whether adjustments to the allotment are warranted.



Photo credit to Marisa Hossick of the Deschutes River Conservancy