It is not uncommon for ditch drivers to receive late night calls to attend to problems and emergencies
The 2022 irrigation season presented many challenges for our farmers, recreational users, fish and wildlife habitat. As we go through the third year of severe drought, we are all feeling its impact. According to the US Drought Monitor, most of Crook County is listed as D4 (exceptional drought) and has been longer than any other area in the state.
Since September 8, the Prineville Reservoir has been at 12% capacity, the lowest elevation on record since its construction. Due to lower water levels, Ochoco Reservoir was closed on Friday September 9th and the rest of the district will be closed on Thursday September 15th.
The amount of water flowing into the Crooked River from Prineville Reservoir typically hovers around 50 cubic feet per second (cfs). The Bureau of Reclamation predicts debits will drop to 10 cfs.
Although the irrigation water supply is historically low, DIO ditch drivers and maintenance staff are working hard to keep the water flowing and make repairs. Operating and maintaining over 200 km of main canal and diversions means there is no typical day.
Driving in the ditches is not a 9-5 job. They are on 24-7 during the season. It is not uncommon to receive calls late at night to attend to problems and emergencies. And while ditch operators are very busy during the irrigation season, winter is when they rush to make repairs when there is no water in the system. During low water years, it is much more difficult to operate the system and serve customers while conserving as much water as possible.
We would like to thank our team of ditch riders who are the boots in the field and keep the OID running smoothly during the toughest times. If you see them leaving, do not hesitate to say hello to them.
As we navigate through the ongoing drought, we will continue to focus our efforts on upgrading the aging water distribution system to increase water reliability and restore habitat for Ochoco and McKay Creek.
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