Building Bridges Over Water Troubles

Central Oregon Irrigation District

The Deschutes Basin could be a tinderbox of opinions and in-fighting over water. Everybody wants it, for every good reason.

Challenges like urban development, climate change, irrigation needs, endangered species and recreation have raised the stakes for this developing agricultural community. Leaders like Craig Horrell of Central Oregon Irrigation District and Mike Tripp of Trout Unlimited may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but together with dozens of other stakeholders, and years of effective collaboration, they have discovered a bridge-building truth: the only way to achieve water security for the whole community is by modernizing its irrigation infrastructure.

This means replacing century-old canals, headgates, and ditches with a finely-tuned system that will save trillions of gallons of water, generate 11 megawatts of green energy and leave 250 cfs in stream for fish. To this end, COID has potential to lay 72 miles of pipe, install automated controls, and build in-conduit micro hydropower facilities—an expensive but achievable goal.

Visionaries like Craig, Mike, and many others are creating bridges to a more viable future. To realize their goals, COID is working with the Irrigation Modernization Program to build a resilient future for agriculture, the environment, and the greater community.