Newsletter Spring 2013

Water Supply Information & Ditch Rider Assignments

The District is entering this irrigation season with an adequate water supply. The reservoirs reached the maximum pooled capacity on April 30th. The individual reservoir capacities at that time were as follows:

Howard Prairie 51,850 acre feet or 86%
Hyatt Lake 15,560 acre feet or 96%
Emigrant Lake 38,500 acre feet or 98%

The unusually dry months since January, with well below average precipitation, as well as unusually warm Spring temperatures forced us into operation considerably earlier than normal.

We began setting up the system to run water on April 8th and began flushing the canals the week of April 15th. The water in the system has been increased as the demand for water increases.

We look to have an adequate water supply this year due to reservoir carryover. 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 2014 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 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.


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 at 541-535-1529.



The Bureau of Reclamation requires that RRA forms be on file prior to any water being delivered to the property of owners who own and/or lease irrigated land totaling 40.1 acres or more. If your landholdings change in any way during the irrigation season, which includes moving your property into a trust, it is imperative that you contact the District office to update your RRA forms.

The District makes every effort to help landowners comply with the RRA regulations, but it is absolutely the landowner’s responsibility to understand the law and make sure that the correct forms are filled out and on file.

Please remember when you make any changes in your landholdings that put you at 40.1 acres or more owned and/or leased, to contact the District office for the necessary RRA forms. The District only updates our ownership records twice a year with Jackson County’s records so your diligence in communicating any changes you make to your landholdings is of the utmost importance. Once a deed is recorded at Jackson County it can take them a few months before the new ownership shows up on their website where we can access the information. If a landowner changes their ownership in any way, during the irrigation season and receives water without a new form on file, you will be fined by the Bureau of Reclamation.


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, 2013 the District mailed out the annual charges.

April 1, 2013 the annual charges were due. Any charges remaining unpaid after this date are deemed delinquent. Interest is 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 1, 2013 the Board of Directors reviews the list of all delinquent accounts.

October 1, 2013 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 12:00 p.m. on Friday, November 15, 2013. The additional charge added to each account that has a lien filed on it is currently $198.00 per tax lot.

November 18, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. the “Notice of Lien Claim” is filed in the Official Records of Jackson County, Oregon.

January 15, 2014 any accounts owing fees from 2011 that have 3 liens filed against their property will have foreclosure proceedings initiated by the District’s attorney.

April 1, 2014 any properties who have failed to pay their 2013 irrigation charges in full, will not be allowed to have water delivered to their property until their delinquent 2013 and any prior year’s charges (if applicable) are paid in full.


The Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. exists to handle issues and events that are common to three local Irrigation Districts which consist of Medford, Rogue River Valley and Talent. The Klamath Adjudication is the process that will “firm-up” the water rights and water use in the Klamath Basin. The Klamath Adjudication has been on-going for some 30+ years.

The Klamath Adjudication and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreements (KBRA) are two very different things. The Districts have been working on, and fully engaged in the Klamath Adjudication process since the beginning, which is a water right regulation and quantification issue.

The KBRA (among other things) hinged on Klamath River main-stem dam removal. The Klamath dams have nothing to do with the Districts’ diversion or transportation of water to the Rogue Basin. The Districts were approached by both the proponents and opponents of the KBRA at one time or another to take a position on the KBRA. However, the Districts determined the KBRA was a local issue in the Klamath Basin rather than a Rogue Basin issue, and chose to remain neutral with respect to the KBRA.

The Klamath Adjudication process has recently come to the point that the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is confident that it can regulate water rights in the Klamath watershed to the priority dates that were accepted in the adjudication. While there are many unknowns at this time, both legal and physical, the Final Order of Determination (FOD) has been released and OWRD will now have the authority to “regulate” water rights to the FOD.

A large portion of the Districts’ water supply comes from stream flow diversions and storage reservoirs that are within the Klamath drainage. Some of the priority dates that have been allowed could have a negative effect on our water supply. One concern is that some Tribal water rights have been granted a water right priority date of “Time Immemorial” which is basically a priority date that is senior in right, to any other within that river basin. The Districts are looking into how it can affect their water supply.

There are several water rights that are senior to the Districts’ water rights but there are hundreds of water rights that are junior to the Districts’ rights that should be regulated prior to the Districts. There is going to be a lot of activity on the Districts part to work on answers to these very complex questions.


The District applied for WaterSMART: Water and Energy Efficiency Grants for Fiscal Year 2013. The grants are through the United States Bureau of Reclamation. There were 182 applications for funding and only 35 were awarded. We are proud to announce that the District is one of the 35 applications that has been chosen to receive funding.

The project selected for this funding will convert 1.3 miles of open sections on the Talent Canal to pipelines to reduce seepage losses. This project is the last phase of an overall conservation project started by the District several years ago to pipe the lower 4.9 miles of the Talent Canal. The project will be phased in over a two year period.

The total estimated cost of this project is $411,287 and this grant will fund $205,643 of that cost. With grant funding becoming harder and harder to obtain, the District is extremely pleased to receive this money.

Rogue Basin Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan

Irrigation districts are required to have a plan under the Federal Clean Water Act, under the direction of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), to help the local creeks meet state water quality standards in relation to bacteria, temperature, excess sediments, excessive aquatic weeds, etc. After coordinating with DEQ and the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, the District accepted the Rogue Basin TMDL Implementation Plan. The plan lays out specific criteria the District must perform and document on an annual basis on what we are doing in our district to address our impact on water quality in the Rogue Basin.

Management Tips: What You Can Do:

Keep soil and nutrients on site.
Keep manure, fertilizer and animals out of streams and irrigation conveyances (e.g. canals and ditches).
Provide an alternate drinking water source for animals.
Pile manure away from canals and ditches.
Fence livestock out of canals and ditches.
Pipe irrigation ditches through pastures.
Apply fertilizer based on crop needs, soil tests, irrigation schedule and weather.

Excess bacteria and nitrates in water can harm people and contaminate drinking water. Keeping water clean is an Oregon Law (ORS 468B.025). It states that no person shall:

Pollute any water including wells, ditches and streams.
Place wastes such as sediments (dirt, weeds, etc.) or manure where they are likely to enter water.
Violate water quality standards.

Contact the local Soil and Water Conservation District at 541-776-4270 for technical assistance.


To keep the District’s four reservoirs safe and to upgrade to current standards, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has taken Hyatt Dam on as a Safety of Dams Project. The Safety of Dams legislation was approved by Congress and under this legislation 85% of repairs or upgrades to a facility will be paid for and completed by Reclamation or their contractor. This leaves the remaining 15% of the total cost which must be borne by the project beneficiaries (generally irrigation districts). Studies are now underway to determine the best and most economic process to achieve this at Hyatt Dam. There will be a collection of alternatives to choose from to be sure that the Hyatt Dam structure will remain safe and viable well into the future.

Although Talent Irrigation District holds the largest share of water in Hyatt Lake, a portion of the water is supplied to Medford and Rogue River Valley Irrigation District by their contracts with Reclamation. This shared water supply means that all three irrigation districts will be sharing in the expenses, albeit at different levels, along with the Green Springs Power Plant which is owned by Reclamation.

The Districts at this time, do not have a firm handle on what the costs will be, but the only alternative to paying for the upgrades is to agree to a reservoir restriction which will limit the amount of water we are allowed to store for irrigation purposes. The Board of Directors of all three irrigation districts unanimously agree that restricting the amount of water that we are allowed to store in Hyatt Lake would be detrimental to the water supply for all users, in future drought, or short water years.

You may, in the future be asked to help the District boards decide on the best alternative for future repairs or upgrades that are needed according to Reclamation.


This WISE Project is moving forward and things are about to get interesting. In the past a preliminary feasibility study was completed which detailed a basic design concept for the project including piping all of the canals. This study showed that the project would save a lot of water and improve the streams. Now we are working on a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) which will determine how much money will be generated annually, as well as how much it will cost. In other words, does it make financial sense to build the WISE Project?

The CBA will evaluate a lot of different aspects of the WISE Project. There will be improvements to farm production based on irrigation being more available and reliable. The water to the farm could be available on a much shorter rotation. The water will be delivered under pressure so that no pumping will be required to use sprinklers or other efficient irrigation systems. And perhaps most importantly, more water will be available. All of these should add up to greater crop production.

The streams will benefit as well and the CBA will help figure out the value of this benefit. As well as improvements to recreation at the reservoirs and in Bear Creek and Little Butte Creek parks. The CBA will also evaluate the value of reusing reclaimed water for irrigation.

The CBA is a comprehensive look at the financial costs and benefits of the WISE Project. It will take some time to complete this work but we expect the final report to be complete this September so look for some actual numbers in your next newsletter.

Contact Us!
Steve Mason
WISE Project Coordinator
(541) 951-0854


The Board of Directors were charged with appointing someone to serve out the remaining term of office of Director Bob Nelson, who resigned from the Board in December as a result of a change in his landholding status in the District. Several candidates were considered and the final decision was made to appoint Jeff Bohn to serve out the remaining term which ends on December 31, 2013.

Jeff was born in Ashland in 1965 and raised in the Rogue Valley. In fact his parents and grandparents both have lived and continue to live in Ashland and have been patrons of the Talent Irrigation District since the 1940s. Jeff and his wife Susan have two sons, Jeffrey who is an education major at OSU and Justin who will be a junior at OSU next year. Jeff and Susan own irrigated land which includes a comice pear orchard in Medford.

We are pleased to have Jeff on the Board of Directors. He brings with him a variety of skills from operating agricultural land to owning his own business. Please join us in welcoming him to the Board.


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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