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104 West Valley View Road / PO Box 467
Talent, OR 97540 USA 541-535-1529



Ditch Rider Assignments

The Ditch Rider assignments are the same as last irrigation season and are as follows:

Ashland Canal

East Canal (Upper Portion)

East Canal (Lower Portion)

Talent Canal

West Canal and McDonald System

During the irrigation season, the District office is open to receive water orders from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. All water orders and requests to contact the Ditch Riders need to be placed by calling the District office at 541-535- 1529.

The Ditch Riders are provided cell phones for their use in conducting their daily work. It is the District’s policy not to give out the Ditch Riders’ cell phone numbers.

On evenings and weekends, there is a voice mail system on the phone number 541-535- 1529 where water orders and messages can be left. The messages are checked regularly on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays by the Ditch Rider who is on- call. The five Ditch Riders rotate on- call weekends.

For after hours emergencies, the phone number to call is 541-770-0315. The emergency answering service will contact the District’s on-call person if your situation constitutes an emergency. An emergency is a situation where property damage is happening or is imminent.

The emergency answering service WILL NOT contact the on-call person for water orders or for lack of water. These types of messages should be left on the office voice mail at 541-535-1529.



The federal government took an interest in irrigation potential in the area. In response to requests involving irrigation developments, the United States Reclamation Service (renamed Bureau of Reclamation in 1923) undertook some investigation in the Rogue River Basin as early as April 1915 under a cooperative contract with the State of Oregon. In 1915, under terms of this contract and under the authority of Chapter 87, “Laws of Oregon for 1913”, the State engineer withdrew all of the unappropriated direct flow of the Rogue River and its tributaries above Raygold for purpose of irrigation, power, domestic use, and storage. Certain tributaries of the Klamath River, which could be diverted to the Rogue River Basin, were also withdrawn.

The studies conducted by Reclamation in cooperation with the State of Oregon resulted in a 1916 report entitled “Rogue River Valley Project” by John R. Whistler, Reclamation Engineer and John H. Lewis, State Engineer. This report, in addition to a survey of other areas in the basin, covered the vicinity of Medford and Ashland. The report included recommendation for possible future water development. The construction of a number of features was outlined, some of which were later built. These included Hyatt Prairie Reservoir, at that time a project proposed by the Foothills Irrigation Company, (a predecessor to TID) and in the early planning stages. Another reservoir site, initially identified by Engineer, V. T. McCray, was suggested to store the waters of Beaver Creek. Eventually this reservoir was built and named Howard Prairie. The recommended distribution system for the Ashland area included the East, Talent, and Ashland Laterals, all of which were later constructed. In the conclusions, the report recommended that, “it be the policy of the United States and the State to consider the Rogue River Valley Project an immediate possibility”. It would be another few decades, however before Reclamation became involved again.


During the Depression, awareness was heightened of the need for a dependable irrigation supply and the importance of the Rogue River Basin’s water resources. A number of studies were conducted in the 1930’s by several agencies. In 1932, the United States Geological Survey published Water Supply Paper No. 6381-B, “Water Power Resources of the Rogue River Basin, Oregon”. The document inventoried power potential of the Basin with descriptions of dam sites and power sites and related geologic features. In 1936, the Portland District of the Corps of Engineers was authorized to make preliminary studies of flood control requirements on the Rogue and Applegate Rivers, and Bear Creek. As various studies and discussions proceeded, area residents and groups articulated conflicting views on the best course of development for the Rogue River Basin. During the 1940’s the population of the area grew significantly and competing interests for the use of limited resources emerged. These diverse interests included irrigation, power production, flood control, and sport fishing. This resulted in publication of a report in 1948 by Reclamation titled “Alternative Plans for Development of the water Resources of the Rogue River Basin”. In the document, two alternative plans were presented that attempted to optimize the land and water resources of the basin in accordance with the area interests expressed. The report was produced prior to a public meeting held in Medford on June 8 and 9, 1948 to solicit input. At the meeting, residents indicated an overwhelming support for Plan A, which was designed for power production, flood control, and complete irrigation development at the least cost. Included was the proposed construction of Lewis Dam on the Rogue River. Plan B included the same irrigation benefits with no dam and less power development. This was the variation that was favored by fishing and recreational interests.


In December of 1953 Reclamation released a revision of a July 1953 report for the proposed Talent Division, an area within the Rogue River Basin. Rather than present a comprehensive basin-wide plan, Reclamation focused on the Bear Creek Valley where proposed improvements appeared feasible from an economic and engineering standpoint. At that time irrigated lands in the Bear Creek Valley totaled about 20,000 acres and almost all were within organized irrigation districts, the largest of which was TID. The latter comprised about 10,000 acres of irrigated lands. Water for TID was supplied from storage at Hyatt Prairie and Emigrant Reservoirs, by canal diversions from Bear, McDonald, Greely, Wagner, and Neil Creeks, and other minor diversions.

The Talent Division as defined in the report encompassed lands in Jackson County that were primarily served by TID. A small amount of acreage, 2,680 was under MID. The report noted three water- associated needs identified in the area; an expanded water supply for irrigation, flood control along Bear Creek, and expansion of the power potential in Southwest Oregon. Reclamation’s ambitious plan for the Talent Division basically called for an extension and addition to works of TID.

Existing features would be used to the extent possible, with some canals requiring enlargement. Storage at Emigrant Reservoir was also to be increased. Keene Creek Canal, Sampson Creek Diversion Dam, and Emigrant Creek Siphon on the Ashland Lateral were to be abandoned. Works to be constructed include Howard Prairie Dam and Reservoir, Howard Prairie Delivery Canal, Power Canal, Penstock, Greens Springs Power Plant, reconstruction of Emigrant Dam, extensions of Ashland and West laterals, collection canals and diversion dams. The plan would provide a sufficient water supply for 17,890 acres of irrigable lands, develop 10,000 kilowatts of power, reduce flood damages, and enhance recreation opportunities. The project would benefit the TID, MID and RRVID by providing primary and supplemental water to all three districts.

In 1956 the water users of TID voted and approved the signing of a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation for the rehabilitation and enlargement of the system. The contract was signed by TID on August 27, 1956. The estimated reimbursable cost for the construction of the project was $20,582,000 of which $12,321,000 was allocated to irrigation. Another $606,000 was allocated for flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife facilities, which were non-reimbursable, but brought the total project cost to $21,180,000. Of the $12,321,000 which was allocated for irrigation, TID was required to reimburse the Bureau $5,810,000. To repay this contract, TID makes annual payments of $80,214 to the Bureau of Reclamation each December. The contract was an interest free loan and will be paid off in the year 2032.

The major construction on the Talent Division was accomplished by 1960. Expansion of Emigrant Dam occurred between 1958-1960, Howard Prairie Dam was built in 1957-1958, and Keene Creek Dam in 1958- 1959. Diversion facilities completed included Ashland Lateral Diversion Dam (1959), Beaver Creek Diversion Dam (1960), Conde Creek Diversion Dam (1958), Daley Creek Diversion Dam (1960), Dean Indian Diversion Dam (1958), Little Beaver Creek Diversion Dam (1959), Phoenix Canal Diversion Dam (1960), Soda Creek Diversion Dam (1959) and South Fork Little Butte Creek Diversion Dam (1960). New canals included the Howard Prairie Delivery Canal (1956-1959), the South Fork Collection Canal (1958-1959), and the Daley Creek Collection Canal (1958-1960). Other new features were the Deadwood Tunnel (1956- 1958), the Billings Siphon (1959), the Green Springs Power Conduit (1957-1959), and the Green Springs Power Plant (1960).

When the Talent Division was completed, TID, MID and RRVID were intricately tied to each other in a complex system of reservoirs and canals that included 7 storage dams, 20 diversion dams, and 250 miles of canal. All three districts obtain water from Howard Prairie Lake, Hyatt Reservoir, Emigrant Lake, Keene Creek Reservoir, and Bear Creek and its tributaries. Fourmile Lake and Fish Lake provide a partial water supply to RRVID and MID and Agate Reservoir provides water to RRVID. Return flows from irrigation that are not diverted for reuse return to Bear Creek and the Rogue River.


Howard Prairie Dam is a zoned earth-fill structure, with a height of 100 feet and a crest length of 1,040 feet that contains 416,000 cubic yards of material. The reservoir created by the dam has a total capacity of 62,100 acre-feet (active 60,600 acre-feet). The dam is on Beaver Creek, 18 miles east of Ashland


Hyatt Dam is on Keene Creek, east of the Cascade Divide approximately 27 miles southeast of Talent. It is an earth and rock-fill structure having a structural height of 53 feet and a crest length of 775 feet. The total capacity of the reservoir is 16,200 acre-feet (active 16,200 acre-feet).

Hyatt Dam was constructed by the Talent Irrigation District in the early 1920’s for irrigation storage. In 1960, the Bureau of Reclamation rehabilitated the dam, constructing fish screens and recreation facilities as a part of the Talent Division.


Keene Creek Dam is a 78-foot-high, 558- foot-long zoned earthfill embankment dam located 16 miles east of Ashland on Keene Creek. Behind the dam is the Keene Creek Reservoir with a total capacity of 390 acre-feet (active 260 acre-feet), which has sufficient water for the power production operations at the Green Springs Power Plant which is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation. The purpose of Keene Creek Dam is to reregulate releases from Howard Prairie and Hyatt Reservoirs to provide storage for the Green Springs Power Plant to operate.


The construction of the original Emigrant Lake was completed by TID in 1925. The dam held a capacity of 8,000 acre feet of water.

In the late 1950s the Bureau of Reclamation enlarged the dam to its current size of 39,000 acre feet as part of the Talent Division Project.