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Walden's Tumalo Bill Receives Hearing

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Walden's Tumalo Bill Receives Hearing

Local district manager testifies; benefits include water conservation, watershed enhancement, protection of listed species, reliable water supply

Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Tumalo Irrigation District Manager Elmer McDaniels today testified before the Subcommittee on Water Power on the Walden-authored H.R. 496, the Tumalo Water Conservation Project Act of 2007.

H.R. 496 would authorize $4 million in federal funds for the Interior Department to assist in the planning, design, and construction of the Tumalo Irrigation District Water Conservation Project in Deschutes County. The Middle Deschutes River has, in the past, been reduced to seasonal flows as low as 30 cfs, and the goal for this project is to enhance that flow to eventually achieve 250 cfs for the Middle Deschutes basin.

The completed project, including other work by the district, will deliver pressurized water to irrigators during drought years, whereas they now receive an inadequate water supply in 8 out of 10 years. Once completed, this project is projected to enhance in-stream flows and improve habitat for listed species.

Congressman Walden's full statement follows:

"Madam Chairwoman Napolitano, Ranking Member McMorris-Rodgers, and other Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for considering the bill I authored, the Tumalo Water Conservation Project Act (HR 496), and inviting my good friend, Tumalo Irrigation District Manager Elmer McDaniels, to testify today.

"Water, something that some might take for granted in certain areas of the country, is a very precious commodity in the High Desert of central Oregon and the arid West in general. Those who labor to help us conserve water and use it wisely deserve our utmost gratitude and sincere praise. It is with that thought in mind that I welcome before the committee Elmer McDaniel, a caring conservationist with a distinguished career in the practice of using, producing, and enhancing the quality of water throughout the West. As manager of the Tumalo Irrigation District for the last 15 years, Elmer has set an example in the Deschutes Basin that other irrigation districts follow.

"Elmer is one of those citizens who not only knows what needs to be done, but figures out ways to turn concepts into reality. Through numerous innovations and bold management decisions, Elmer's efforts have returned over nine miles of Tumalo Creek to its full and natural flow throughout all twelve months of the year. I assure you this was no small task. Elmer understood the need for irrigation districts to partner with the public interests to put water back in streams while providing a more reliable delivery to water users.

"His hard work led to Public Law 106-496, the Bend Feed Piping Project, which increased the water flow, lowered the water temperature, and added more water to the middle of the Deschutes River.

"I am proud to call Elmer a good friend, proud to share with you his accomplished stewardship over one of our most valuable assets, and welcome him here today to provide testimony on HR 496.

"The Tumalo Water Conservation Project Act would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to assist in the planning, design, and construction of the Tumalo Irrigation District Water Conservation Project.

"This $14 million project would pipe approximately six miles of open canals and return 20 cubic feet per second of conserved water to in-stream flows of the Deschutes River under the Oregon State Water Conservation Statute. Whereas irrigators now receive an inadequate water supply in eight out of ten years, the completed project, along with other work by the Tumalo Irrigation District, would deliver pressurized water to irrigators during drought years.

"If dealing with drought wasn't difficult enough, reintroduction of listed steelhead into the Crooked and Deschutes River is part of the required mitigation under the Settlement Agreement for the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. As of May 8 of this year, steelhead have been reintroduced. The proposed in-stream water to be added, should this legislation be signed into law, will deliver over 10 percent of the 250 cubic feet per second goal for restoring summer flows in the Deschutes River.

"HR 496, coupled with authorization for projects in the Oregon Water Resources Management Act (HR 495) that passed the House by voice vote on July 23 of this year, would make tremendous strides toward meeting the ecosystem and habitat standards for listed species, as well as provide flow stability for farmers and people who call the Deschutes River Basin home."

Congressman Greg Walden represents the Oregon's Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon. He is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and a member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

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