NRCS - Natural Resources Conservation Service

01/11/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/11/2023 15:10

Final Plans Approved for North Unit Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project

Madras, OR (January 11, 2023) - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Oregon has released a Final Watershed Plan-Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Finding of No Significant Impact for the North Unit Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project.

NRCS Oregon has determined that the project will not cause significant local, regional, or national impacts to the environment. With a completed environmental assessment in place, the project is now eligible for federal funding and may move forward into final design and construction.

The project will install 27.5 miles of gravity-pressurized, buried pipe; upgrade 153 turnouts; and construct four 1,000 cubic-yard retention ponds, each approximately 0.5 acres in size. The project will improve water conservation on District-operated laterals; improve water delivery reliability and drought resilience to NUID irrigators; reduce NUID's operation and maintenance costs; reduce operational spills into natural waterbodies; and improve streamflow, water quality, and habitat in the Deschutes River.

By converting the open-ditch irrigation canal into a buried, closed-pipe system, North Unit Irrigation District Infrastructure Modernization Project will reduce water loss from seepage and evaporation, saving an estimated 6,089 acre-feet annually and reducing operational spill returns to nearby natural waterbodies. Following project completion, 4,567 acre-feet of the water saved annually by the project would augment water supplies for NUID's existing patrons, helping to fulfill existing water rights, and alleviate water supply shortages across the District. The remaining 1,522 acre-feet of water saved annually would be allocated for instream purposes and released into the upper Deschutes River during the non-irrigation season. The project is a joint effort among NRCS Oregon, Bureau of Reclamation as a cooperating agency, North Unit Irrigation District, Deschutes Basin Board of Control, and Farmers Conservation Alliance, in coordination with other agencies, stakeholders, and the public.

The Final EA and other supporting documents for the project are available at:

The project may be partially funded through the Watershed and Flood Prevention Program, administered by NRCS and authorized by Public Law 83-566. Through this program, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to local organizations (project sponsors) for planning and carrying out projects that help solve natural resource and related economic problems in a specific watershed. These issues can include watershed protection, flood prevention, erosion and sediment control, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement, and wetlands creation.

For more information about this and other irrigation modernization efforts, visit or the NRCS Oregon public notice webpage.

Lauren Bennett, NRCS
Public Affairs Officer
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 503-414-3220

BJ Westlund, FCA
Government Relations Manager
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 541-716-6085

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