Wins Piping Case 2-12-08
On February 12th U.S. District Court
Judge Ann Aiken provided a final judgment in case Civ.
No. 04-1721-AA, Swalley Irrigation District, Plaintiff,
v. Gary Clement Alvis, et al. (about 160 property owners
owning property along the Swalley Main Canal area to be
piped). Click here for final
judgment (pdf document)
The final judgment refers to the court's opinions of March
1, 2006 (district may pipe), November 16, 2006 (easements
effective in Section 16) and March 23, 2007 (dismissal
of many of the defendants). These items are available
from the federal court document or Swalley will provide
them upon request.
This case was filed in the federal court as a declaration,
the district asking the question of the court as to whether
Swalley has the right to pipe its Main Canal (specifically
5.1 miles in mostly urban areas) under its 1891 federal
right-of-way (ROW). The court has decided that the district
can pipe using that easement as authority. This decision
is important to all districts who have similar federal
The district's attorney on this case is Dan Israel, a
federal right-of-way attorney out of Boulder, Colorado.
Swalley is rapidly building pipeline and should complete
all but 1.2 miles before April 15.
Swalley Irrigation District,
Central Oregon Irrigation District and the Lone Pine
Irrigation District have partnered to develop a new
fishscreen installation at the districts' diversions
near North Canal Dam in Bend (near the Riverhouse).
There are two fishscreens, meeting in a
V-shape. The smaller screen on one side prohibits
fish from entering Swalley's pipeline to the main canal
and a larger screen on the other side of the V will
protect fish before the diversion into COID and Lone
Pine. The screens replace old-style louvers the districts
installed in the 1960s as recommended then by the Oregon
Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
The new screens
have been developed to meet criteria approved by the
ODFW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to meet
today's fishery protection requirements mandated by
the federal Endangered Species Act and other protection
needs. Engineering to meet the agencies requirements
was accomplished by DEA in Bend. The new screens went into operation in 2004.
|The three districts
divert a total of 785 cubic second feet (cfs) of flow at
this location on the Deschutes River to provide irrigation
on over 50,000 acres of agricultural land in the Bend/Tumalo/Redmond
area. The screens replicate successful similar installations
in Stayton, Oregon, and in Northern California and Yakima,
Washington and at Arnold Irrigation District in Bend earlier.
|Partnership among the districts
made the design and maintenance more cost effective.
The project came in just under $1 million dollars.
Swalley's share is about 24% of that cost. The project
has been granted $293,000 from the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service grant program (FRIMA) for fishscreens,
$150,000 from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
through ODFW's fishscreen funding program. Swalley's
total share of the $1 million project will be about
Bluprint of the fishscreen project
Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) have an
agreement to exchange certain deliveries on the edges
of the two districts delivery systems where better
delivery can be provided to the customer due to proximity
to the other district's facilities. This is a long-standing
agreement confirmed by the watermaster (Oregon Water
Resources Department, Bend Regional Office).
that are made by Swalley employees to COID customers
must follow Swalley water rights’ scheduling and the
rules and regulations of SID (Swalley). Assessments
are paid to COID. Some of the COID deliveries are
on a rotation basis, but Swalley does not rotate water
use among its customers, but provides individual deliveries.
piping good for river, people
By Gary Blake / Bulletin guest columnist
Published: September 07. 2007 5:00AM PST
Recently, letter writer John Robbins
opined that property owners have been ignored in the piping
project process. Mr. Robbins did not mention that he is
a board member of the Central Oregon Irrigation District.
He is also an irrigator in COID, and the district diverts
water from the Deschutes River that benefits his property.
It is important for honest, open dialogue
about the piping process. The common goal is to ensure
that there is enough water in the Deschutes for irrigation,
recreational enjoyment and a healthy fish habitat. It
is not a time for unfounded, hysterical diatribes against
mysterious, unnamed “big government” conspirators.
As a COID board member, Mr. Robbins
is aware of the need to conserve water, provide for public
safety, deliver irrigation water efficiently to his district’s
members and of the reduced cost to his district from piping
the canal that passes through his property.
Over the last five years, three irrigation
districts — COID, Swalley and Tumalo — have
installed 10.01 miles of piping that have resulted in
leaving 32.07 cfs (more than 3.7 billion gallons) of water
in the Deschutes each irrigation season. The river has
never looked healthier, and, to my knowledge, property
owners have not experienced the mayhem Mr. Robbins purports
will be the result of installing these piping “lifelines.”
The “main canals” of both
Swalley and COID are not protected by “easements,”
but by federally granted rights of way, as legal counsel
has apprised the COID board. These rights of way were
issued to the districts under the Federal Right of Way
Act of 1891 to allow for the delivery of irrigation water
to settlers. In the 1860s, up to 1 million acres of arid
land were granted to any western state making a request
under the Desert Land Act (the Carey Act) so that settlers
would come to arid parts of Oregon and develop the land.
The irrigation canals were not built
• Provide a scenic amenity;
• Enhance property values;
• Be a receptacle for stormwater
• Receive garbage and grass cuttings
from property owners; or
• Provide a rafting or swimming
Anyone contemplating a property purchase
should understand irrigation easements, rights of way
and the district policies that affect the property.
Before Swalley Irrigation District undertook
its piping project, it researched the impacts of piping
versus lining, held “town halls” open to its
members, the public and the press. Swalley held an election
in 2004 specifically for approval of its piping project.
During the past four years, the news media has thoroughly
covered the issues and the debate. Affected landowners
cannot claim ignorance of the canal piping projects.
Before initiating its piping projects,
Swalley studied the costs and benefits of piping versus
lining. Lining for the 5.1-mile Swalley project is one-third
the cost of the piping (not the one-tenth claimed by Mr.
Robbins). However, lining has a limited life due to temperature
fluctuations in Central Oregon and has to be replaced
every 10 to 15 years. Pipe lasts more than 50 years. Long
term, it costs less for piping than lining.
There are other benefits to piping:
Lining canals speeds the flow of the
water to almost double that of an unlined canal. When
water flows at 6.6 feet per second, instead of 3.6 feet
per second, the slick lining makes it dangerous and almost
impossible to escape the canal.
While lining helps with reducing seepage,
it does not do away with loss of water due to evaporation.
Water and energy conservation benefits
from piping are significantly greater than with lining.
One-quarter of Swalley’s total water right (27 cubic
feet per second) will go directly into the Deschutes,
and water users will be able to pressurize their systems
and reduce their electrical and pumping costs.
Energy generated from the district’s
hydro plant will go into the grid and provide decentralized
power opportunities here in Central Oregon, which hopefully
will keep power costs down, while helping to provide a
more secure, reliable power source.
Taxpayers and Swalley’s users
are not paying for Swalley’s project — it
is financed by grants from private foundations, the state
lottery program, funds from the Oregon Department of Energy
bond sales and energy sales.
Everyone who lives or recreates in Central
Oregon should contribute to making the Deschutes River
basin a healthy, sustainable ecosystem. The Swalley piping
project works for the district and for the common good.
Gary Blake lives in Tumalo and
is on the board of the Swalley Irrigation District
PIPING OK'd by FEDERAL COURT
Bulletin - March 8, 2006