Newsletter Spring 2011

Water Supply Information & Ditch Rider Assignments

The District is entering this irrigation season with all of the reservoirs full.

Due to the extremely wet spring, we did not start setting up the system to run water until April 27th and then followed with flushing the canals the week of May 2nd. The water in the system will be increased as the demand for water increases.

Even though we have an adequate water supply, it is still important to use water efficiently and conserve as much as possible. Water that is conserved this irrigation season is carried over to the next irrigation season. Since we never know how much precipitation will be received next winter, we need to be thinking ahead and do all we can to help ourselves out for the 2012 irrigation season.

If you are interested in tracking the reservoir elevations, you can do so all year long at the Bureau of Reclamation’s website at The reservoir elevations are updated daily.


The Ditch Rider assignments are the same as last year and will be as follows:

Ashland Canal
East Canal (Upper Portion)
East Canal (Lower Portion)
Talent Canal
West Canal & McDonald

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 need to be placed by calling the District office.

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 can be left. The messages are checked regularly on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays by the Ditch Rider who is on-call. The 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 as an emergency. An emergency is a situation where property damage is happening or is imminent.

The emergency answering service will not contact the oncall person for water orders or for lack of water.


The first unit of the Talent Irrigation District was completed in March of 1920 and was known as the McDonald Unit. It consisted of water delivered from McDonald Creek, a tributary of the Applegate River, via the McDonald Canal into Wagner Creek, a tributary of Bear Creek. From there, the Fredericks Lateral was built to deliver water to some of the west side lands. The McDonald System is still in operation and is the only section in the District that relies completely on natural stream flow. There are no storage reservoirs on the McDonald System. It typically exhausts its’ natural stream flow water supply anywhere from July through August of each year.

The vast majority of the District’s water users receive their water from the reservoir system, which provides a more reliable water supply. The following is an overview of the reservoir system.

Hyatt Lake Dam was built in 1924 on Keene Creek. The water stored in Hyatt Lake Dam was conveyed by means of Sampson Creek to the original Emigrant Lake Dam that was also built in 1924 on Emigrant Creek. For Talent Irrigation District, this was the beginning of water storage at higher elevations and moving it down to the lower Bear Creek Valley.

In 1954, Congress authorized the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to construct the Talent Division of the Rogue River Basin Project for irrigation, flood control, hydroelectric generation, the construction of fish and wildlife facilities and minimum basic recreation facilities. In addition, some existing facilities constructed by non-Federal interests were authorized to be rehabilitated.

In 1956, the water users of the Talent Irrigation District voted to approve signing a contract with Reclamation for the rehabilitation and enlargement of the irrigation system. This contract lead to the building of one of the features of the Talent Project, a new reservoir called Howard Prairie Dam located on Beaver Creek. The building of Howard Prairie Dam included the construction of a system of canals to transport water for storage into the reservoir from various sources. The collection canals total approximately 19 miles. Another canal system was constructed from the outlet of Howard Prairie Dam down to Keene Creek Reservoir to move the stored water towards the valley. This canal is called the Delivery Canal and it is approximately 20 miles long.

Hyatt Lake was not enlarged during the rehabilitation of the irrigation facilities. The water released through the outlet works at Hyatt Lake Dam travels down Keene Creek and enters Keene Creek Reservoir. From Keene Creek Reservoir, the water from both Howard Prairie and Hyatt Lake Dams is moved through the Cascade Divide tunnel, a connected pressure conduit, to the Green Springs Divide tunnel and through the power conduit that serves the Green Springs Power Plant on Buckhorn Springs Road in Ashland. Reclamation owns, operates and maintains the Green Springs Power Plant and appurtenant facilities, and the energy is marketed by the Bonneville Power Administration.

Once the water leaves the Power Plant, it is released into Emigrant Creek where a portion of it is diverted (only during the irrigation season) into the Ashland Canal, while the balance is left to flow into Emigrant Lake Dam for storage. The Ashland Canal is approximately 17 miles long. TID maintains the Ashland Canal and makes water deliveries from its head works on Buckhorn Springs Road to Starlite Place in Ashland. Starlite Place is where the maintenance of the Ashland Canal system and delivery of TID water is turned over to the City of Ashland for their control and distribution.

As part of the Reclamation contract with TID in 1956, Emigrant Lake Dam was enlarged to its current capacity in 1960. A portion of the water in Emigrant Lake Dam is released down Emigrant Creek which flows into Bear Creek for downstream water rights for the Talent, Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation Districts. Water is diverted out of Bear Creek at Oak Street into TID’s Talent Main Canal, which extends approximately 20 miles downstream, ending at Knowles Road near Jacksonville.

Water is also diverted from Emigrant Lake Dam into TID’s East Main Canal, which extends approximately 26 miles downstream, ending at Barnett Road. On the East Main Canal, near the Port of Entry on I-5, is the beginning of the West Main Canal. The water travels underneath I-5 in a large siphon and resurfaces near Ashland Mine Road in Ashland. The West Canal is approximately 23 miles long and terminates at West Griffin Creek Road where it enters the Talent Main Canal.

The Talent Irrigation District is a very complex system consisting of approximately 130 miles of canals. The District is responsible for maintaining every mile of the canals described above. In addition, we are also responsible for the operation and maintenance of over 100 miles of service laterals which take off of each of the main canals.

The operation and maintenance of these canals and laterals keeps District crews busy all 12 months of the year. Every so often the District office receives calls from water users who say they are not going to use their irrigation water for one season and they state that they do not want to pay the irrigation charges for that particular year. The response to these types of requests is to let the water user know that they are not paying for the irrigation water that they may or may not use. Water users are actually paying for the operation and maintenance of the entire irrigation system described above. Because the system has to be maintained at all times, whether individuals use the water or not, the costs of the operation and maintenance of the entire system are constant.

It was the water users of the irrigation districts back in the 1950s and 1960s that had the foresight to develop an irrigation system in the Rogue Valley to allow agriculture to flourish and become a staple of the economy. It is important to remember that if it weren’t for the Talent Irrigation District, together with the Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation Districts, there would not be a Howard Prairie Lake, Hyatt Lake, Keene Creek Reservoir, Emigrant Lake, Fourmile Lake, Fish Lake and Agate Lake that the general public enjoys for recreational purposes today, in addition to their economic impact on agriculture.


As in previous years, the canal headgates were locked with padlocks at the end of the 2010 irrigation season. This procedure was started because the District began receiving several phone calls or complaints of water moving through unregulated headgates during the winter months causing problems for downstream landowners.

The ditch riders will be unlocking the headgates at the beginning of this irrigation season. If you find your padlock is not open when you are ready to irrigate, please call the office so that your ditch rider can be notified to remove the lock.


The District will continue to post our planned moss removal operations on our website at Please feel free to check the website weekly for the most up to date information. The moss growth is sporadic and sometimes sudden with warm weather conditions. We will do the best we can to keep you informed.

Please keep in mind that the moss removal operations will cause limited interruptions in the canal flow, so we ask that you be patient and work with the District during these times.


If you own and/or lease property, or properties which irrigate 40.1 acres or more west of the Mississippi River, you must comply with the requirements of the RRA. If you own, operate or lease 40.1 acres or more and you have not filed an RRA form, please contact our office immediately. The Bureau of Reclamation requires that the RRA forms be on file in the District office before water can be delivered to the property. It is the land owner’s responsibility, not the District’s, to make sure that the correct forms are filed and filled out correctly.


The District is utilizing cost share funding from the Bureau of Reclamation to convert the existing E-12 Lateral to a pressurized pipeline. This is a very large project for the District. The total pipeline length is approximately 6,800’ and utilizes pipe sizes from 18” down to 4”. The installation began in January and continued through March of this year.


When the District implemented the new irrigation billing software, each account was given a new account number. When remitting your payments please write the new account number on your check. If using electronic banking, please make sure to update the account number on the bank checks also.


Those of you who own property along the main canals are well aware of the maintenance that has to take place on a regular basis. Each spring, before water is in each canal, we clean the silt and vegetation from within the canal prisms. We typically remove these materials and place them on the edge of the roadway to dry. At a later date, we then grade these materials back across the canal road or use them to level the road from damage caused by human and animal traffic during wet weather conditions. The District’s easements and right-of-ways are for District access, operation and maintenance only.

The office receives several phone calls a year from people asking for permission to walk, horseback ride, jog, etc. on the canal roads. The land where the canals are located is owned by the property owner. The District has easement authority only for our use. We cannot give anyone permission to use the canal roads for any reason. If you need to access the canal road, please contact the landowner of the property for permission. If permission is granted, have the landowner notify the District office for authorization. Due to liability,the District discourages use of its’ canal access roads.


The District has had a set policy for several years for the collection of delinquent water user accounts. The following is a reminder of that policy and procedure:

February 1, 2011 the District mailed out the annual charges.

April 1, 2011 the annual charges were due. Any charges remaining unpaid after this date were deemed delinquent. Interest was charged to delinquent accounts from the date the invoice was originally mailed. The interest rate, as set by State Statute, is 16% per annum.

October 4, 2011 the Board of Directors reviews the list of all delinquent accounts.

October 4, 2011 all delinquent accounts which owe fifty dollars ($50.00) or more are mailed a letter “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested” that a lien will be filed against their property if their account is not paid in full by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. The additional charge added to each tax lot that has a lien filed on it is currently $192.00 per tax lot.

November 16, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. the “Notice of Lien Claim” is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County, Oregon.

January 15, 2012 any tax lots owing fees from 2009 that have 3 liens filed against their property will have foreclosure proceedings initiated by the District’s attorney.

April 1, 2012 any properties who have failed to pay their 2011 irrigation charges in full will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property until their delinquent 2011 and any prior year’s charges (if applicable) are paid in full.

Please remember that the District will accept payments on your account. Every payment received will be applied to your account according to District policy; however, interest will continue to accrue on the unpaid balance.


An election is held on the second Tuesday of each November to elect a board member whose term is expiring. The person receiving the highest number of votes at said election shall be elected and hold office for three years from the first Tuesday in January next following the election until a successor is elected and qualified. In order to qualify as a candidate to run for a board member position, the person must be a resident of Oregon and an owner or shareholder of a corporate owner of land within the District. Nominations for a board member position may be made by petition signed by at least 10 electors who are qualified to vote in the District. Nomination petitions may be picked up in the District office anytime after September 1st. If only one nomination petition is filed for the position, no election will be held. If you would like more information on board member elections, please contact the District office.


The Bear Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan was signed by the District on August 4, 2009. The District continues to document our efforts to reduce our impact on water quality in the Rogue Basin.

A portion of the water in the irrigation canals can eventually end up back in natural streams. First Bear Creek and then the Rogue River. It is important that the canals are not used as trash disposal facilities. Not only is it illegal, but also hazardous to discard glass, cans, trash, lawn clippings, tree trimmings, dead animal carcasses, etc. into the canals.

It is important for water users to closely monitor waste or runoff water that leaves their property. Ultimately, water that runs off is the responsibility of that water user. Contact the District office if you observe problems associated with District facilities or canals.


With the irrigation season upon us, the District is constantly concerned with the safety of the general public and wants to remind everyone of the dangers posed by open irrigation canals. The canals contain slippery moss, sharp rocks, glass and barbed wire. There are a lot of hidden underwater dangers such as turbulence or suction, strong enough to rip off a lifejacket!

Some driveway crossings have a trash rack to catch debris as it floats in the water. The water pressure at these crossings is higher, causing even more danger in these areas.

Kids building dams in canals or ditches for fun can cause extensive damage that requires expensive repairs. Please communicate to your friends and family that it is not only against the law to be in the irrigation canals, but how dangerous ditches and canals can be. Please call the District office immediately if you see someone swimming or bathing in the canals.

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