By Tracee Tuesday | KTVZ | September 21, 2023
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Nearly a quarter of the water in the Middle Deschutes is a result of Deschutes River Conservancy’s “Instream Leasing Program,” which got a financial boost in the recent legislative session. The investment addresses ongoing, extreme drought conditions.
Of the $142 million, $50 million will, in part, go toward Central Oregon’s water conservancy.
Oregon State Representatives, Ken Helm a Democrat, and Mark Owens a Republican, led the development of the drought and water security package.
Investments in Central Oregon include:
- A $50 million grant in part for irrigation districts to match secured federal funding
- Money will help the state’s Instream Leasing Program benefiting both farms and rivers
- Instream Leasing contributes a quarter of summer flow in the Middle Deschutes downstream from Bend
Statewide, the drought package also provides funding for water data, fish screens and fish passage, plus water planning, and drought resiliency for farmers.
The money needs to be used by June, 2025. The policies that make Instream Leasing easier, should increase flows in the Middle Deschutes through Sawyer Park.
Much of the water saved through the $50 million, will be used for conservation, and will be restored instream, in the Upper Deschutes, below Wickiup in the winter.