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It is not unusual for ditch riders to get late-night calls to take care of issues and emergencies

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Ross TwissThe 2022 irrigation season presented many challenges for our farmers, recreational users, fish and wildlife habitat. As we navigate the third year of severe drought, we all feel the impact. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of Crook County is listed as D4 (Exceptional Drought) and has been longer than any other area in the state.

As of Sept. 8, Prineville Reservoir is at 12% capacity, the lowest elevation ever recorded since its construction. Due to dropping water levels, Ochoco Reservoir was shut off Friday, Sept. 9, and the remainder of the district will shut off Thursday, Sept. 15.

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Bill OarThe amount of water flowing into the Crooked River from Prineville Reservoir typically hovers at or near 50 cubic feet per second (cfs). The Bureau of Reclamation is predicting the flows to drop to 10 cfs.

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Lance StoverDespite irrigation water supplies being historically low, OID's ditch riders and maintenance staff are working hard to keep water flowing and making repairs. Operating and maintaining more than 122 miles of main canal and laterals means there is no such thing as a typical day.

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Scott BrayDitch riding is not a 9-to-5 job. They are on 24-7 during the season. It's not unusual to get late-night calls to take care of issues and emergencies. And while ditch riders are plenty busy during the irrigation season, winter is when they race to make repairs while there's no water in the system. During low water years, it is much more difficult to operate the system and serve patrons while conserving as much water as possible.

We want to thank our team of ditch riders who are the boots on the ground and keep OID running smoothly during the most challenging times. If you see them out and about, please say hello.

As we navigate the ongoing drought, we will continue focusing our efforts on modernizing the aging water delivery system to increase water reliability and habitat restoration for Ochoco and McKay Creek.


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