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White River Irrigation Efficiency and Stream Flow Restoration Project

 

Year Awarded: FY 15
USDA Funding: $1.6 million
Partner-Contributed Funding: $2 million
RCPP Funding Pool: Critical Conservation Area – Columbia River Basin
Project Timeline: 5 years (2015 – 2019)
Counties: Wasco
Lead Partner: Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District

 

Collaborating Partners:

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
  • WyEast Resource Conservation and Development
  • Rock Creek District Improvement Company
  • Round Prairie Irrigation District
  • Lost and Boulder Irrigation District
  • Farmers Conservation Alliance
  • Trust for Public Lands
  • Wasco County
  • U.S. Forest Service Barlow Ranger District
  • Wasco Electric Cooperative
  • Northern Wasco County PUD

Project Summary:

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The White River Irrigation Efficiency and Stream Flow Restoration Project aims to improve water quantity, water quality, and fish habitat in the White River Watershed—an area dominated by irrigated crops with limited annual rainfall (12 inches average). NRCS will work with a diverse group of traditional and nontraditional partners and landowners to achieve common goals.

The project will remove six fish passage barriers to increase fish habitat access. It will also improve irrigation efficiency to save 7,300 acre feet of water annually and restore flows in 21.9 miles of stream, of which 15 miles of stream were over-allocated and seasonally dewatered. Those 15 miles will be converted back to perennial flow. The overall increase in stream flow will dramatically increase water quality and fish habitat.

Project success will be demonstrated through the acquisition of permanent water rights transfers, flow measurements from the irrigation districts and watermaster, and removal of fish passage barriers. Fish distribution surveys conducted by the ODFW and USFS will help quantify the benefits of the in-stream water to fish populations.

This project is focused on the White River and Tygh Creek Watersheds located in Southern Wasco

County in North Central Oregon. The White River Watershed and Tygh Creek Watershed are located in the Lower Deschutes Basin. The Lower Deschutes Basin contains federally listed steelhead, Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and sockeye salmon. The project area also encompasses the 30,760 acre White River Wildlife Area, which is the largest wildlife area owned by ODFW.

NRCS Financial Assistance Programs Used:

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

NRCS Conservation Practices:

  • Aquatic Organism Passage
  • Irrigation Pipeline
  • Irrigation System, Sprinkler
  • Irrigation Water Management
  • Structure for Water Control
  • Water Well
  • Pumping Plant

Points of Contact:

Josh Thompson, Conservation Planner
Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District
Phone: 541-296-6178 ext. 116
Email: josh.thompson@or.nacdnet.net

Frank Cochran District Conservationist, Wasco County
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Phone: 541-298-8559 ext. 111
Email: frank.cochran@or.usda.gov

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