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The Medford Irrigation Board of Directors Resolved to Adopt the following 2014 Drought Plan for Medford Irrigation District

Without significant spring rainfall and higher reservoir levels,water users in the District should anticipate water shortages this coming summer and begin to prepare accordingly. Continued wet weather will help keep the natural stream flows up and will help delay pulling from the District’s snow pack dependent, stored waters which are; Fourmile Reservoir, Fish Lake, presently overall at only 51% maximum full and the South Reservoir system for MID is 48% of maximum capacity. Water will be totally shut off when it is deemed impractical to maintain canal and lateral flow for deliveries to all users equally. We need at least 75% to make it through a full season with restrictions. The District will adhere to a strict rotation schedule. At present the rotation schedule for the 2014 season is starting to shape up. We are anticipating starting with extended periods on the rotations. At this point the days between irrigation events are not set in stone, but will be made to save water by 25% which equals 2.0 AF/acre for all users. We expect all water users to respect the Ditch Riders decisions on rotating the water around to meet this savings.

The District will delay the startup date as long as possible (potentially close to May 1st) to reserve as much water as possible in the reservoirs to lengthen the season.

Once you start your irrigation you must continue irrigating day and night until completed. Also, the water is expected to be shut off by the Ditch Rider after a shorter than normal time. It needs to be emphasized that the District’s canals run 24 hours a day; rain, shine, or vacation. These rules will be enforced this short water year so that water is not wasted or an acre of land does not receive more than its allocation for the season. If the water is not being utilized properly, it will be passed on to the next user in line by Ditchrider or Management. If water is not going to be used, let your ditch-rider know so that water can be passed on. This will allow the District to maintain a more even flow and reliable flow with a minimum of waste. RUNOFF WILL BE STRICTLY WATCHED FOR AND THE WATER WILL BE SHUT OFF AND PASSED TO THE NEXT USER WITHOUT NOTICE. If your headgate or pump is tagged call the District office for explanation.

There are measures that we all need to take to ensure the best use of the water we do have. Conservation is everybody’s responsibility. Using water sensibly is the most important thing we can do as individuals. Making sure irrigation is done properly is very important. Using a garden hose is a very inefficient way to irrigate because it spreads water unevenly. Use mulch wherever possible and convert to pressurized irrigation if you flood. Approximately 70% of our users have converted. The types of irrigation systems used have varying degrees of efficiency. Flood irrigation is the least effective way to irrigate and creates crop stress on both sides of the equation. Some areas get too much water and others don’t get enough. Sprinklers spread water more evenly over the area; however there is a fair amount of evaporation. Surface drip irrigation sometimes called trickle irrigation loses less water to evaporation than sprinklers and waters areas more precisely.

Any improvements made to an irrigation system will benefit our water using community. An upgrade from flood to sprinklers will use much less water more effectively. This will be a good year to switch to pressure irrigation. Flood irrigation is an outdated way to irrigate.

Communicate with your neighbors and Ditch Riders. Good communication is what drives a cooperative system. Call the office at least 24 hours prior to wanting the water turned on, same day requests cannot be honored. Let your Ditch Rider (and neighbor, if applicable) know 12 hours before you are going to be finished with the water so the Ditch Rider can make necessary adjustments to his system. Move your sprinklers more often with a maximum 8 hour setting or less and no overlapping. Although this is burdensome, it will save water. Water cuts at diversions and attention to runoff or waste will pay large dividends towards extending our depleted water supplies.

Watering lawns is an area we can all improve in. There is a misconception that light watering will save water and keep landscaping alive. Light watering actually wastes water because it discourages roots from growing deeply, where the ground stays moist longer. Infrequent and deep watering is preferable. Most established lawns, if allowed to go dormant during hot, dry weather, will rebound when rains come. Cut back on watering until lawns and shrubs show some signs of stress.

Keep your ditches and laterals clean and free of debris so you can maintain a reliable flow. Do not try to flood certain portions of your land to an unreasonable depth to reach other portions. Try not to over graze pastures to keep adequate cover for moisture retention. Look at the District’s website at www.medfordid.org for updates and progression of the current water supply and any changes in rotation scheduling as the season progresses for better or worse.

It is important that everyone be patient. There will be interruptions in service. There will be fluctuations in water flows as we do our best to conserve reservoir water. Regular mechanical demossing operations will continue throughout the season. As everyone has experienced in the last few years, the use of mechanical demossing does cause limited interruptions in service during the procedures.

Remember we are seriously short of water this year; conservation and good patient communications with all are the keys.

Thank you for your cooperation in helping to implement this 2014 Drought Plan.

Courtesy of NRCS

As of February 1, it appears that the 2014 snowpack season will go down in history as one of the lowest on record for many parts of Oregon. About two dozen Oregon SNOTEL and snow courses have broken their previous record lows for snowpack levels. Many other areas in Oregon are the second or third driest on record. In addition, January was the fourth month in a row with below average precipitation and reservoirs are storing less water than last year. Water users should prepare for well-below average streamflows for most of Oregon's rivers and streams this summer. The basin snow pack was 18% of normal-the lowest in the state.


June 4, 2013


The Klamath Basin Adjudication was initiated in 1975 for the purpose of adjudicating pre-1909 water rights in the Klamath Basin. In March 2013, the adjudicator, Oregon Water Resources Department, (OWRD) issued its Findings of Fact and Final Order of Determination (FOD). In the next phase of the adjudication, the Klamath County Circuit Court will hear any objections to the FOD and then issue a water rights decree.

Klamath Basin Water Regulation

OWRD will now regulate the Klamath Basin according to the FOD. This means that successful water right claimants who hold pre-1909 priority dates will be able to request the regulation of junior water right holders for the first time. As a result, some water right holders who have had access to water for over 100 years will now be subject to regulation.

Impacts on the Rogue Valley

Why does this matter to residents of the Rogue Valley? Three irrigation districts (Talent, Medford, and Rogue River Valley) (collectively, the Districts) supply irrigation, municipal and industrial water to over 35,000 acres in the Rogue Basin. The Districts depend in part on a 1910 water right to store and divert water from Fourmile Lake in the Klamath Basin over to the Rogue Basin. The use of that water right is now in jeopardy because of several very large claims by the federal government on behalf of the National Forest Service, the Klamath Tribes and the Bureau of Reclamation.

First in Time Is First in Right How is this possible? Oregon follows the “prior appropriation” doctrine of water use, like most western states. When there is not enough water to satisfy all the water rights, water users with senior priority dates will receive water, while water users with relatively junior rights will not. Simply stated, water users who are “first in time” are “first in right.” There are many water rights junior to the Districts’ Fourmile Lake right that should be curtailed first. Nonetheless, in many years there is simply not enough water to go around in the Klamath Basin.

Next Steps

The Districts are represented by legal counsel as they participate in the Klamath Adjudication process. The Districts are engaged in the court proceedings and are prepared to defend the Fourmile Lake water right to the fullest extent possible.

Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement

It is important to note that the Klamath Adjudication and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA) are two very different things. The KBRA hinges on Klamath River dam removal (among other things), and those 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.

This information sheet has been prepared by the Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. (RBWUC), which is an entity formed to handle issues and events that are common to Medford, Rogue River Valley and Talent Irrigation Districts.

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