Water Doesn’t Grow
on Trees


The Deschutes Basin in Central Oregon is like many agricultural communities: the most precious resource is water.

Every drop that leaks or evaporates from century-old irrigation infrastructure is a liability that irrigation districts, and the communities they support, can no longer afford. But converting open canals to pipelines is a million-dollar-a-mile reality. With few resources to pay for modernization, the task can seem impossible. Swalley Irrigation District has become a model of the way forward.


Jer Camarata talks about Irrigation Modernization at Swalley

“…it’s important to be flexible as we work through and manage some of the issues.”

Jer Camarata, Swalley Irrigation Manager

With a mix of federal, state and private funding, Swalley has converted 10 of its 28 miles of open canals to pipelines and built a three-quarter megawatt hydropower facility, taking advantage of water while on its way to farms. Swalley uses revenues generated from the carbon-free, fish-friendly renewable energy to pay off their modernization investments and fund future projects. The efficiencies created by the new pipelines mean that 9.2 billion gallons of water per year are now returned to streams for fish, recreation, and the community at-large.

Working with FCA, Swalley has developed a comprehensive strategy to modernize its entire system. We can’t grow more water, but Swalley’s ingenuity proves that we can invest in optimizing the water we do have for the benefit of all.