The Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan has been finalized. An incidental Take Permit was issued to Ochoco Irrigation District and the other applicants on December 31, 2020. The plan Is the result of nearly twelve years of collaboration between irrigators, federal and state agencies, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, cities, counties, multiple non-governmental organizations, and the general public in the Deschutes Basin of Central Oregon. For more information go to the DBBC website.
Operating under the terms of this permit will give OID assurance for the next 30 years that we will be able to store, release and divert water, as we have for over 100 years, and not be subject to litigation or enforcement regarding the endangered species that are impacted as we conduct our business under the terms of this permit.
As responsible stewards of the precious resource that has been entrusted to us, we are committed to seeing the water utilized to its most beneficial use. To provide for the greatest environmental benefit, OID has made certain commitments that will help to offset the impacts of our operations on species identified in the plan. We will be:
- Conducting additional monitoring of flow in area rivers and streams.
- Maintaining specified flows in Crooked River, Ochoco and McKay Creeks that meet the needs for fish and farmers.
- Creating the Crooked River Conservation Fund in partnership with the City of Prineville and North Unit Irrigation District to help fund activities that support conservation measures and/or benefit the covered species within the Crooked River subbasin.
- Providing funds, materials and technical expertise to patrons with pumps in Crooked River, McKay or Ochoco Creeks to meet screening requirements.
These commitments are significant and come with some added expense that the District will need to meet beginning in 2021. Additional labor and equipment for monitoring, administration for reporting, and funds directed for conservation and screening for example. This will be reflected in the 2021 budget and assessed to patrons in the form of an HCP account fee. Every account will pay equally to cover the costs of these commitments.