History of the Farmers Irrigation District

The Farmers Irrigation District started in the former Hood River Irrigation District area in 1874 when the Water Supply Company of Hood River Valley was formed to irrigate about 1,000 acres of land. Irrigation water rights were acquired on Ditch Creek, Dead Point Creek, and several springs. In 1905, the Hood River Irrigation District was formed, and the boundaries of the district included all the adjacent land which could be irrigated to produce a crop and also included hundreds of acres of timber land on slopes above the valley floor. The gross area within the district was 5,275 acres. The newly formed district took over the water rights of the Water Supply Company and filed for additional water rights on Pine Creek and the North and South Forks of Green Point Creek. After experiencing late summer water shortages, in order to supply supplemental water during this typically dry period, the district began to acquire easements in 1923 for storage reservoirs in the Green Point area west of the small community of Oak Grove. In 1937, a permit was issued authorizing reservoir and dam construction. The present-day Green Point Reservoirs have 288 acre-feet of storage capacity in the lower reservoir (which was built in 1936) and 715 acre-feet of storage in the upper reservoir (constructed in 1937).

Irrigation started in the original Farmers Irrigation District area in 1906 when the Farmer's Irrigation Company was organized. Shares were sold, and each share entitled the holder to one miner's inch of water [ 1/40 of a cubic foot per second (cfs)]. Irrigation water rights were acquired on Hood River in the amount of 41.11 cfs to irrigate 3,288.7 acres at a reduced duty of 1/80 cfs per acre. An intake structure was built on the Hood River, and the Farmers Canal was constructed to convey water to the area to be irrigated. During the winter of 1964-1965, the headgates of the Farmers Canal suffered substantial damage due to a flood in the Hood River Basin. In May, 1965, the Farmers Irrigation District was formed under Oregon law in order to be eligible for canal restoration money via a program through a former branch of the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR). Encompassing a gross area of 5,360 acres, the district included the original area, water rights, and facilities of the Farmer's Irrigation Company. The district then received federal financial assistance to rebuild the headgate, flume, and a bridge across the Hood River to restore water service to the users.

Chronic water shortages in the former Hood River Irrigation District resulted in water rotation virtually every year. In 1968, an agreement was reached between the two original districts to install a pump on Farmers Canal, and water rights were acquired to lift water into the Hood River Irrigation District. Although helpful, this project did not completely alleviate the water shortages. During the drought of 1977, approximately one-third of the irrigated lands in the Hood River Irrigation District received no water during the latter part of the irrigation season.

Since the two former districts were adjacent to each other with one common boundary, possible merger of the districts was discussed for a number of years. The drought of 1977 resulted in serious efforts to merge the two districts. After a favorable vote in May of 1978, the two districts were officially merged on July 1, 1978. The newly formed district became Farmers Irrigation District. The two districts were merged to more efficiently utilize the combined water resources, to expand the account base for increased operating capital, and to take advantage of the extreme elevation changes to generate electricity to provide revenue for a fully pressurized irrigation system.

To read the complete history of the Farmers Irrigation District and the surrounding area, click here. (Note: this is a BIG PDF file: 64MB's)

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