Deschutes River customers will get 0.5 acre feet and Crooked River customers 0.25
Cool, wet weather in April and May gave the North Unit Irrigation District Board the courage to increase the water allocation to Jefferson County growers.
At their Friday, May 20 meeting, council members voted to increase 0.45 acre feet to 0.5 acre feet for customers who get their water from the Deschutes River, and 0.23 acre feet to 0.25 acre feet for customers who obtain their water from the Crooked River.
To quantify this, irrigators on the Deschutes River will receive an additional five hundredths of an acre-foot of water. Not much, but every little bit can help.
“We are cautious,” said NUID Board Chairman Marty Richards. “We’re a bit into the season, but we feel comfortable with it right now.”
Even 0.5 acre feet are way short of what growers in the district usually get. Farmers typically count between 2 and 3 acre feet of water.
Drought and environmental concerns have made it impossible for NUID to provide 2 acre feet of water since 2018.
Last year, the district started with an allotment of 1 acre-feet, but conditions forced the district to reduce that allotment twice, eventually reaching 0.8 acre-feet of water. The district also limited the amount of water customers could order each day.
Richards says the board hopes to be able to avoid any cuts in the allotment this year and hopes not to have to impose order caps.
Cool winds blow both ways for farmers. Although they don’t need to use as much water, Richard Macy of Macy Farms says the lack of heat means alfalfa is about three weeks behind where it should be.
Richards says the multiple late frosts damaged some seed heads on the bluegrass.
The increased water allowance is additional good news, but good news nonetheless.
“It benefits all producers,” Richards said.
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