1) When is irrigation season?
April 15th - September 30th. April 15th is the first day that irrigation service may legally begin. Peak water use is usually around mid-July. The season may continue until September 30th. During very wet water years, the District may delay irrigation start-up if soil moisture levels are high and rain continues later into the spring. During the fall, if early rains come, irrigation water may be shut down prior to September 30th. OK, so why do I see water in the irrigation canals before April 15th or after September 30th? Water is introduced into the system in early March and various canals and pipelines are incrementally charged from then until mid-April. The water in the system during the initial fill can only be used for filling sprayers and frost control. This water cannot be used for irrigation. Similarly, in the fall, water is gradually cut back after the end of the irrigation season, with spray provided upon request, until sometime during the last week of October. At any given time, water in the main canal or pipeline is for hydroelectric generation use.
2) How do I determine my water right amount?
Your water right amount is shown on your statement and is determined by the amount of land that can actually be irrigated on your property. The Oregon State Water Master for our region oversees water use in the Hood River Basin, and the water right allotment for the Hood River Basin is 5.6 gallons per minute (gpm) per water right acre with a seasonal volumetric limit of 3.0 acre feet per acre. (An acre foot of water is the volume of water required to cover one acre of land one foot deep, which amounts to nearly 326,000 gallons of water.) Most properties are not fully irrigated. For example, if you have 1.5 acres of land, after subtracting your driveway, house, and outbuildings, you typically would be left with about 1.2 water right acres or 6.7 gallons per minute of water (1.2 water right acres x 5.6 gpm/acre = 6.7 gpm).
3) How much water do I get? Where does it come from?
To determine how much water you may use in gallons per minute, multiply your water right acres by 5.6. For example, if you have 0.25 water right acres, then 0.25 water right acres x 5.6 gpm/acre = 1.4 gallons per minute for you to apply to your land. Your water right never provides enough water to irrigate all of your acreage at once. It is necessary to rotate your sprinklers on a regular basis to cover all your land. By using low flow micro-sprinklers, you will be able to more efficiently irrigate larger areas of your property without exceeding your water right allocation. Micro-sprinklers are available from the District office free of charge to District users in exchange for old, out-dated sprinkler heads. Depending on where you live in the District, your irrigation water comes from the Hood River off of Mount Hood or from the Mount Defiance tributaries including North Green Point Creek and Dead Point Creek. Water for the uppermost lands in the District comes from Kingsley Reservoir, which is filled in the spring from Gate Creek.
4) Why is it important that I use only my allotted amount of water?
State law and District water conservation policy do not allow diversion of water from streams and rivers above the amount stated in the District water rights certificates. If each irrigation district member uses only his or her share of water, then there is enough water to go around, and the District is also able to leave appropriate amounts of water in-stream for fish and ecological needs as well. Using beyond one's water right causes other individuals in the District to go without their full water delivery. Flow regulators are installed on your water service connection to ensure that you receive your proper amount of water. If you try to operate more sprinklers than your water right will allow, your pressure will drop and the sprinklers will not work efficiently. Simply reduce the total number of sprinklers operating at one time until your system is balanced to optimal pressure. Not to be nasty, be please note that tampering with or removing your flow regulator is a violation of District Policy and State law, and you may be subject to steep fines and penalties including restrictions on your water delivery.
5) What is the biggest cause of water supply problems to my property?
Aside from problems associated with trying to use too much water (as described in the question immediately above), a clogged filter is usually the cause of water supply problems to individual properties. If you establish a regular schedule to clean your irrigation water filter, you will typically enjoy a trouble-free irrigation season.
6) What do I do if my water has low pressure or volume?
Assuming you are not attempting to use more than your water right allows (see Question 5, above), first check to make sure your main shutoff valve is wide open. Next, inspect your irrigation filter (after closing both upstream and downstream valves) to ensure that your filter is free of sediment and debris. Clean your filter if needed. If all valves are in the "on" position and your filter is clean (and you are not overusing), then check the "Irrigation Delivery Status" link on our Homepage, or you can call the Irrigation Line at 541-387-5261 for updates. Interruptions in service can sometimes happen due to service line breaks, maintenance work, or, sometimes, natural events such as debris torrents or earthquakes.
7) Why is the irrigation water dirty?
Water to the Farmers Irrigation lower district comes from the Hood River, which has heavy glacial sediment. Furthermore, the large District conveyance canals are not yet fully piped, and leaves and other debris can fall into the canal water as it flows to the District's pressure distribution system. The District screens the water to about 1/8 of an inch on the pressurized systems so some smaller material is still transported to your individual filter. During periods of dirty water, such as later in the summer when glacial sediment is high or we are cleaning the large canals, it can sometimes be necessary to clean your filter several times per day. (This is also a good place to remind you that District water is not for human consumption or other domestic uses.)
8) May my irrigation water be used for any purposes other than irrigation?
The short answer is "no." While District farmers are allowed to use their water for other commercial farming purposes under special separate water rights, most District users must restrict their water use to irrigation only. District irrigation water is untreated and typically contains high volumes of abrasive sediment. It is unsuitable — and unsafe – for human consumption. Don't drink the water, don't play in the sprinklers, don't fill your swimming pool, and don't wash your car with District water.
9) Why is my neighbor able to run more sprinklers than I?
You might think that the short answer here is that we like your neighbor better than you, but that's not true. Assuming your neighbor is not stealing water by using more than his or her water right, and, furthermore, assuming you and your neighbor are both using the same type of sprinkler, the real answer is that your neighbor has a larger water right than you and, therefore, may use more sprinklers.
10) How do I winterize my irrigation system?
To winterize your system, leave both valves and the filter ball valve fully open and drain water from your pipes.
11) How do I change the name and/or address on my property?
Names and addresses are changed in the District's data base only upon receipt of written notice from Hood River County that such a change has been made and recorded with the County. If you have special billing address requirements, please be sure to contact the District office to ensure proper routing of your statements and other District-related correspondence.