Lake Billy Chinook Pumping Plant Concept
- North Unit Irrigation District (NUID) is the largest irrigation district in the Deschutes River Basin (Basin) in Central Oregon and second largest in the state, consisting of approximately 59,000 irrigated acres of high-value crops.
- Current NUID water supply consists of water rights from both the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers delivered through the Federal Deschutes Project and Crooked River Pump Station.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA) concerns in the Upper Basin led to a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that was approved on December 31, 2021.
- To keep agriculture viable, NUID has partnered with local stakeholders on a series of studies exploring infrastructure, management approaches, and alternative water supplies as a result of the ESA and HCP commitments, in addition to ongoing drought.
- These studies have identified the Crooked River Water Quality and Supply Reliability Project as a key solution for NUID and the Basin.
- Reduced water deliveries and streamflow from drought conditions in 2020 and 2021 have further highlighted the need for this project to increase the reliability of water for farms and the environment.
Here’s a helpful .pdf resource containing ‘Background on NUID’
- The Crooked River Water Quality and Supply Reliability Project would include a pumping plant on Lake Billy Chinook, a pipeline, and associated features to deliver water to Deschutes Project facilities. A Phase 1 design study was completed in 2020.
- The project allows NUID to utilize water rights in or transferred to Lake Billy Chinook (LBC).
- Future water supplies would consist of:
- NUID Crooked River water rights with point of diversion relocated to LBC, increasing streamflow in the Crooked River by up to approximately 30,000 acre-feet per year.
- Prineville Reservoir storage releases supplied by USBR to NUID. Under P.L. 113-244 NUID can contract with USBR for up to 10,000 acre-feet per year from Prineville Res.
- ESA/HCP-related off-season (winter) releases of Wickiup stored water for fish and wildlife purposes, that collect in Lake Billy Chinook.
- Conserved water from COID piping projects delivered via the NUID Main Canal. Studies have estimated savings available to NUID at 35,000 acre-feet.
- Diversions at Bend into the NUID Main Canal, including NUID live flow water rights.
- A scope and budget for a feasibility study and environmental compliance is estimated to be $5.3 million. This work could begin immediately with funding.
- Based on previous BOR studies and alternative locations identified by NUID, estimated construction costs vary widely ranging from $200-$440 million.
- Annual operating costs, including O&M and power, is estimated to be approximately $5 million.
- Improved streamflow benefits to the Crooked River equal to at least 10,000 acre-feet per year, and possibly up to 30,000 acre-feet per year. Flow rate benefits are estimated to range from 30 cfs in the early season to over 130 cfs in the late summer.
- Annual water supply benefits to NUID estimated to range from 40,000 to 60,000 acre-feet per year, relative to a non-project condition. The objective is to provide NUID with a water supply at least similar to historical conditions prior to the HCP and with capacity to improve upon historical water supplies.
- The new project could have additional capacity to allow NUID to bypass a portion of its water at its diversion into the NUID Main Canal in Bend and instead pump water from Lake Billy Chinook.
- The agricultural economy of Jefferson County is one of the most significant in the state and is the primary local economic driver. This project will allow NUID to improve unreliable, junior rights with a more secure water supply that will allow Jefferson County’s agricultural sector to continue to prosper.
The feasibility study, is the reason it isn’t completed yet due to funding?
Are we as a district not able to move forward with the planning and budgeting of the project until the feasibility study is completed?
Correct, however feasibility study is a component of planning, budgeting and design. A complete feasibility study may determine the LBC concept has fatal flaws and/or other constraints that simply makes the project infeasible. A complete feasibility study will also assist with planning and budgeting. And completing a feasibility study is a standard requirement for receiving many sources of federal funding for construction of projects like this.
Is the district currently waiting for funding to finalize, or are we still in the weeds with trying to find said funding for the feasibility study?
The district is looking at any and all options for funding. As you know, NUID was instrumental in obtaining funding through the recent state disaster relief package that could be used to support a portion of the LBC concept feasibility. However, the largest part of funding remains a need. We’ve identified funding authorization through the Dept. of Interior and we’re working with the Agency and our Oregon delegation to assist in making funding available for LBC.
If/when the study is completed, what’s the timeframe for essentially breaking ground on the station?
Timeframe for breaking ground remains to be seen. The key now is to accomplish feasibility and determine validity of the project. If feasibility is positive we still need the funding and resources to permit it and build it. And don’t forget that feasibility may show that it can be built, and if so, whether NUID and its patrons can afford to operate it.
Who does the district have in mind to perform the feasibility study and have they been contacted yet?
NUID received a draft scope and budget for the work from Black Rock Consulting (engineer and NUID engineer of record), Parametrix (engineering, planning, environmental, land surveying, and construction services), and Jacobs Engineering (international engineering firm). Yes, they’ve been contacted and prepared the scope and budget for the feasibility study which also includes efforts related to electrical transmission considerations and routing and environmental feasibility evaluation including a full EIS process as required by NEPA.
At what point is the district able to get a rough, yet fairly solid cost estimate for the updated location of the project? We‘ve heard anywhere from 250 million to 500 million, and that’s a pretty good spread when talking about the budget. If there were funding available in D.C, but we had to get on the docket essentially by Monday to get our name on the list for set aside funding, is the district open to trying to obtain that funding. I am curious how close to a ballpark figure NUID has in mind for the cost of construction.
See the attached for the number developed during a phase 1 investigation process via a USBR WaterSmart Water Marketing Grant. Keep in mind the number in the attached has likely increased considerably. NUID believes there is a better location that will cut costs. But until feasibility is complete this is what we have to work with. We have good understanding of the cost to complete needed pre-feasibility and feasibility work and are pursuing federal sources for those amounts. NUID is open to any funding opportunity but it must be done in coordination with NUID.
Are there any prints/plans/rough engineering yet for the proposed pumping station?
No prints or plans exist today. The work that has been done to date is very preliminary and really only identifies LBC as a concept and a project to look into based on the information that was generated. I would classify the information we have to date as a phase 1 investigation keeping in mind this was done under the concept of a WaterSmart Water Marketing Grant from USBR.
Who does the district plan to use as their engineer? Local, Washington DC, Portland?
As a public agency, NUID must follow procurement rules that require NUID to prepare Request For Proposals (RFP’s) for projects of this nature. NUID engineer of record will prepare the RFP and manage RFP process.
Are these plans included in the feasibility study or is this separate?
Separate, although some level of design and engineering is done to determine feasibility and is utilized to complete final design.
If it’s not included in the feasibility study, is the cost of getting plans drawn and engineered figured into the total cost of the project?