EPID Water holding

 

By Ralph McKechnie

For the Independent

Meeting on July 8, the Eagle Point Irrigation District discussed the drought situation and some surprising news is that there is a chance that water will continue to flow at the current rate without interruption throughout the entire irrigation season. Not wanting to be overly optimistic, Manager Dave Ford responded to the question by merely saying that the water will stretch through the end of July. Ford did say that he was attempting to be realistic because the hot weather and lack of rain have literally dried out the aquifer.

One point that former Manager Hazel Ellefson always pointed out is that much of the vegetation requires less water following the period occurring sometime during the middle of August. At that time, vegetation, especially trees, shift into the drought mode and require less water. Fortunate that is also the time when the supply also loses production. What that causes is the water supply, even though diminished, to go further toward irrigating fields properly.

This is, however, a very dry year and Ford is doing all possible to preserve what water there is by holding some in reserve in Willow Lake. However, that causes the District to have to pump water from North Fork Butte Creek, and the amount budgeted for pumping costs will probably be exceeded this year. The budget for pumping is approximately $35,000 and the actual will likely be more than that.

Currently, the water being taken form Butte Creek amounts to some 62 1/2 CFS and another 7 CFS comes from Willow Lake. Ford did say that there is some from the springs that dump into the main canal, bringing the amount in the main canal to a managing level that allows a full rotation of irrigation. What happens from here on out may be another story.

There was a lengthy discussion concerning the division of water from the system. As many know, EPID and the Medford Water Commission have joint date of water rights on the creek and the springs. Medford Water pulls directly from the springs and gets the benefit of almost pure water. The District pulls form the creek and the Lake because irrigation water does not have to be as pure as drinking water.

Another issue that has arisen is that consultant Buck Rowden has discovered water users above the District’s diversion have been pulling more water than they have by right, and that situation has been rectified by the Watermaster.

The discussion came around to the original agreement between Medford Water and EPID and the documents show that there could be additional water had the original plan been followed. Four Bit Creek has a live stream and the water right extends to that as well. However, there was a planned ditch to transfer water from that stream to Willow Lake, which would augment water in the system. The Board and Rowden are exploring the possibilities to completing that original project. The Board will hold a joint meeting with Medford Water to discuss the findings by the first part of August.

Attorney Bill Mansfield reported that oral arguments were to be given to the July 10 session of the Oregon Court of Appeals on the Lesko Beaver Case. Mansfield assumed that no decision would be handed down until sometime in the fall. He also reported on the disposition of the embezzling case. In this case, the accused has changed her plea to “guilty” and will probably be sentenced in September.

In recognition of the contributions to the District, EPID will host a picnic for retired consultant and District Manager Hazel Ellefson, and Shop Foreman Roger Ellefson. The planned date is September 29 and all patrons are invited to attend.

District meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of each month at the District office on Brophy Road, beginning at 5 p. m. All patrons are urged to attend.

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