Aug 24, 2022 | Blog

Western Water Interests Respond To Drought With Creativity

Western Water Interests Respond to
Drought with Creativity

Recent Federal Investments Should Encourage More of the Same

From left to right at a recent Three Sisters Irrigation District ribbon-cutting ceremony:
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), TSID manager Marc Thalacker, and USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie.

Throughout the Western United States, dire challenges are being faced by agricultural water users in the Colorado River Basin, California’s Central Valley, the Klamath Basin, the Columbia River Basin and its tributaries in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Rogue River Basin in southern Oregon, and the Great Basin.

The federal government has responded to the drought with once-in-a-generation levels of funding assistance, first through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law by President Biden in November 2021. More recently, President Biden last week signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, (IRA), which includes $4 billion to tackle the Western drought.

Western water and wildlife managers are actively responding to extreme drought with creative measures. The recent historic government investments will encourage more of the same.

Central Oregon District Modernizes Irrigation System

CLICK HERE to view this Central Oregon Daily article and video which describes how Three Sisters Irrigation District (TSID) and its manager, Marc Thalacker (shown left), have spent nearly $50 million dollars the past 20 years piping district canals, essentially eliminating seepage and evaporation.

Mr. Thalacker also serves on the board of directors for the Family Farm Alliance.

Ducks Unlimited Secures IIJA Funding for Project that Benefits Refuges & Farms 

The Family Farm Alliance works with constructive conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited (DU), who earlier this week learned they would receive $2.6 million in grant funding to improve wetland habitats through irrigation efficiencies on Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the announcement that these IIJA funds would go to DU’s project, which will improve water management within both refuges and provide flexibility and reduced operational costs for over 20,000 acres of irrigated agriculture.

“Ducks Unlimited has been working for decades in the Klamath Basin. We are partnering with farmers and local governments to adapt to a new normal of unpredictable water supply,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Director of operations Jeff McCreary.

CLICK HERE to download the 8/24/22 DU press release for additional information.

Alliance Executive Director Discusses IRA Drought Funding in Irrigation Today

President Joe Biden signed the multibillion-dollar Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 into law Aug. 16, putting into formal motion funding including $4 billion for Western drought relief efforts and $40 billion for ag, forestry and rural community investment.

The August 23rd online exclusive edition of Irrigation Today, features an interview with Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen, who explains that putting a spotlight on Western drought was a vital addition to the IRA.

“This is a really extraordinary drought that we’re facing, and it requires extraordinary attention by the government to deal with it,” says Mr. Keppen.

Irrigation Today is an important ag irrigation resource that is published quarterly by the Irrigation Association for today’s growers.

CLICK HERE to view “IRA to target Western drought, ag investment”.

We will continue to keep you informed on this and other developments impacting Western irrigated agriculture.
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