Pamplin Media Group – Irrigation District to Empty Haystack Reservoir


Oregon Fish and Wildlife is lifting all bag and size limits and gear restrictions through November

The North Unit Irrigation District plans to drain Haystack Reservoir to dead pond by mid-November. At dead pool, the water level in the reservoir southeast of Madras will drop so low that it cannot flow downstream.

The district needs to empty the tank in order to repair the emergency door to the tank. In anticipation of the removal, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lifted all game fishing limits and gear restrictions for anglers on the Haystack Reservoir from September 16 through November 30. ODFW has lifted all size limits and daily bag limits for all fish species.

NUID has struggled to open and close this door for the past two years. The situation has caused water leaks and raises concerns that the district would not be able to fully open the gate quickly enough in an emergency. Bureau of Reclamation engineers were unable to diagnose the problem with the water stored in the tank. The NUID board plans to shut down irrigation to its boss on October 14.

“In a perfect world, Haystack will be empty on October 14,” said NUID chief executive Josh Bailey. “However, if that doesn’t happen, the plan is to evenly distribute water to customers until Haystack reaches the dead pool.” Bailey expects the water to drain completely from Haystack Reservoir by mid-November, and BOR mechanical engineers plan to be on site by mid-November. NUID plans to begin filling the reservoir in January if BOR engineers have completed repairs by then and conditions permit filling. If the Deschutes River does not have enough flow to completely fill Haystack this winter, NUID hopes to completely fill the reservoir during spring flows.

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