Destroy The Historic Flume?

Before it enters the main canal, the water passes through an historic elevated flume along the banks of the river, including Lava Island Falls, a popular world class kayaking destination. Arnold Irrigation District proposes to bury the flume and construct a road on top of it that would be a mile-long eyesore visible from the River Trail along the west bank of the river and will possibly deposit massive amounts of construction material into the river, illegally altering the river’s right channel.

This earthen dam-like monstrosity along the federally protected Wild and Scenic Upper Deschutes River would be visible to hikers along the river, residents on the west bank and visitors who stay at Seventh Mountain Resort. The heavy equipment used to bury the flume would cause other collateral damage to wildlife habitat and private property as well.

We are concerned that Arnold Irrigation District owns over 7-acres of riverfront property adjacent to their flume project area, directly across the river from Widgi Creek Golf Course yet it fails to disclose its plans for this property and how their modernization project might enhance its value.

This proposed project is screaming for an Environmental Impact Statement.

Here is a video showing plans to bury the flume portion of the Arnold Canal near Lava Island Falls on the Wild and Scenic Deschutes River.

Wells, Plants & Wildlife Will be Negatively Affected

While there is an urgent need to conserve irrigation water to maintain more water in the upper Deschutes for threatened species habitat and help struggling farmers, piping causes a massive amount of collateral damage. Piping completely eliminates seepage that infiltrates into the ground and shallow aquifers. As has already been seen after other piping projects (Swalley and Tumalo Irrigation Districts) have been completed, nearby wells have failed and are having to be re-drilled at owners’ expense. Any trees that have become habituated to the 115-year-old seasonal water source will die after piping–not to mention the thousands that will be cut down to clear the pipeline’s construction area. AID has no idea what habitat and migration changes will be forced on wildlife that use the canal corridor, but simply hoping for the best is not a responsible plan.

There are several alternative solutions to piping that address all of these issues. A variety of canal lining technologies would substantially reduce seepage but allow enough to replenish groundwater to minimize negative impacts to wells, keep trees and vegetation alive and allow wildlife access to water. It would maintain an open canal to allow emergency pumping of water in the case of a wildfire. It would save thousands of trees that help offset greenhouse gasses. It would cost 200 to 400 percent less than piping. This video explains the problems with piping and better solutions that are available.

Simple, common sense solutions like canceling or reducing winter-time stock runs (where the canal is run at full volume for several days to benefit only a few irrigators and the excess is poured out into a field at the end of the canal) would hold back a sizable volume of water for improved Deschutes flows. Delaying the start of the irrigation season past the still night-freeze-prone date of April 15th and shutting down the season sooner than the typical October 15th end of operations could save massive amounts of water when it’s not as needed by irrigators. Exploring the non-structural and policy solutions of water banking, aquifer management and water rights legislation could all yield substantial water savings.

Starting to solve our broader water resource challenges starts with people, not piping. Piping is a politically convenient, knee-jerk reaction that will cost taxpayers over $40 million and do more harm than good. It’s time that Arnold Irrigation District stopped avoiding Deschutes County residents and its own patrons and came to the table to find a collaborative way forward that works for all parties.

Stop The Pipe! It Doesn’t Work for People.

Starting in 2022, the scenic and ecosystem-sustaining Arnold Canal could be filled in.
Consequences include:

• Negatively Impacting Groundwater Wells
• Destroying/Damaging Trees and Vegetation
• Destroying Wildlife Habitat
• Property Damage, Dust and Noise During Construction
• Reducing Property Value

This seven-year, $42 Million project will help few and harm many.

Not even AID’s irrigating patrons are confident that the pipe will improve their water delivery–there isn’t enough elevation drop to support a pressurized delivery system and many of AID’s delivery issues are on their laterals system, not the main canal.

There are alternative solutions! But there can be no discussion until this “All Or Nothing” steamroller of a proposal is stopped.

Questions? Visit our FAQ or Email: savearnoldcanal@gmail.

Voice Your Opposition!
Send an E-mail, write a letter or phone your government representatives:

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon
131 NW Hawthorne Ave., Ste. 208, Bend, OR 97703
(541) 318-1298

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon
131 NW Hawthorne Ave., Suite 107, Bend, OR, 97701
(541) 330-9142

US Representative Cliff Bentz  

OR Representative Jack Zika
900 Court St. NE, H-387, Salem, Oregon 97301
(503) 986-1453

OR Senator Tim Knopp
900 Court St. NE, S-425
Salem, Oregon 97301
(503) 986-1727

Deschutes County Commissioners:
PO Box 6005, Bend, OR 97708-6005
(541) 388-6570

Patti Adair

Phil Chang

Tony DeBone