Save Arnold Canal is a group made up of many different stakeholders concerned about AID’s poorly explained and often misleading piping plan–including AID patrons, both on and off the main canal. One of the most common complaints from AID patrons has been the District’s lack of communication about this plan from the outset and their complete lack of engagement with patrons to explore all the possible solutions to current water resource challenges.
Patrons who live along the main canal are opposed because those 149 owners (out of 650 AID patrons) will be asked to bear the entire burden of a 7-year construction project that will irreparably damage their property, make any market-priced sale of their homes unlikely with the proposed project looming, destroy a 115-year-old seasonal riparian ecosystem, and then in the end offer them no improvement to irrigation water delivery than they had with the existing open canal, headgate and weir system.
Patrons who live on AID’s laterals system are opposed to the piping project because the issues that they may currently have with inefficient water delivery (debris jams, improperly adjusted headgates, slow reaction to requested delivery adjustments) will simply not be addressed by piping the main canal. They are also worried that the poorly explained, closed and possibly pressurized system may not work as promised and end up actually making water delivery worse, as has been seen by patrons in Swalley and Tumalo Irrigation Districts after piping.
Patrons of AID who have taken the time to read the draft Environmental Assessment (available on our Documents page) realize that neither piping the canal nor lining the canal will ensure that drought conditions like we are currently experiencing now won’t happen again–and neither piping nor lining will provide any more water to patrons than we have now. Any water saved in AID’s water swap shell game concocted by Farmers Conservation Alliance will ultimately be held in Wickiup reservoir for the purpose of increasing non-irrigation flows in the upper Deschutes. This saved water will not be used as a storage “cushion” for drought-times but only be saved “instream” for the sake of threatened species critical habitat.
Patrons opposed to this plan realize that the only things that AID can claim a pipe will do for sure is stop 100-percent of canal water seepage (aka infiltration to groundwater) which is a 100-percent guarantee to kill trees, vegetation and shallow wells, and avoid some water delivery delays like we’ve seen from large sinkholes–though if a large tree falls on this buried plastic pipe and cracks it, that will be a repair that takes longer than shotcrete repairs on a sinkhole.
AID’s claim that a pipeline will produce a pressurized irrigation delivery system are not explained in any reasonable way and highly doubtful given that there isn’t enough elevation drop from diversion to canal’s end (only 40-feet) to generate adequate head pressure. AID’s prospects for viable hydro-electric power generation from the piped system were determined non-existent in the Districts’ early planning documents for the same reason–not enough elevation change.
Irrigation patrons in Tumalo Irrigation District discovered that the buried pipe’s points of delivery did not match their previous headgate locations and offered no “return” option for flood irrigators, resulting in new irrigation system infrastructure costs as high as $40-80,000 in some cases after piping.
AID patrons stand to lose much to gain so little, and at extreme cost to taxpayers. There are other ways to solve this problem that have been dismissed by AID and their partners early on in favor for piping and the $26 million in grant money that has AID thinking about pay raises and new equipment. AID has given up on serving its own patrons in favor of towing the line for the Deschutes Basin Board of Control which operates as a consortium of Deschutes Basin Districts and in favor of allowing Farmers Conservation Alliance who produces the pro-piping Environmental Assessment documents for all the Districts to do their thinking for them.
Don’t believe their pipe hype. The only thing becoming clear about this proposed plan is that AID patrons will lose the most to gain the least.