Rogue River Valley Irrigation District

2013 Winter

Newsletter


  

ROGUE BASIN

WATER USERS COUNCIL, INC.

KLAMATH ADJUDICATION

The Rogue Basin Water Users Council, Inc. exists to handle issues and events that are common to the three local Irrigation Districts which consist of Medford, Rogue River Valley and Talent. The Klamath Adjudication process is the process that will “firm-up” the water rights and water use in the Klamath Basin. The Klamath Adjudication has been on-going for some 30+ years.

     The Klamath Adjudication and Klamath Basic Restoration Agreements (KBRA) are two very different things. The Districts have been working on, and are fully engaged in the Klamath Adjudication process, which is a water right regulation and quantification issue.

     The KBRA (among other things) hinged on Klamath River Main-stem dam removal. The Klamath dams have nothing to do with the Districts’ diversion or transportation of water to the Rogue Basin. The Districts were approached by both the proponents and opponents of the KBRA at one time or another to take a position on the KBRA. However, the Districts determined the KBRA was a local issue in the Klamath Basin rather than a Rogue Basin Issue, and chose to remain neutral with respect to the KBRA.

     The Klamath Adjudication process has recently come to the point that the State   of Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is confident that it can regulate water rights in the Klamath watershed to the priority dates that were accepted in the Adjudication. While there are many unknowns at this time, both legal and physical, the Final Order of Determination (FOD) has been released and OWRD will now have the authority to “regulate” water rights to that Order.

     A large portion of the Districts water supply comes from stream flow diversions and storage reservoirs that are within the Klamath drainage. Some of the priority dates that have been allowed could have a negative effect on our water supply. One concern is that some Tribal water rights have been granted a water right priority date of “Time Immemorial” which is basically a priority date that is senior in right, to any other within that river basin. The Districts are looking into how it can affect their water supply.

     There are several water rights that are senior to the Districts water rights but there are hundreds of water rights that are junior to the Districts rights that should be regulated prior to the Districts. There is going to be a lot of activity on the Districts part to work on answers to these very complex questions.

     The Districts take this process as a very real threat to their water supplies, knowing that each District could potentially be affected, albeit to varying degrees. The Districts have been and are actively involved in the process, including but not limited to working with the Oregon Water Resources Department, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (through legal counsel) as well as outside consultants, to assure the Districts follow every remedy that is available to keep an uninterrupted supply of water to the Rogue Basin. 

BOARD OF DIRECTOR ELECTION INFORMATION

Irrigation district law requires that at least one member of the Board of Directors must be up for election every calendar year. This year Stephen Benston’s term of office expires on December 31, 2013.

Nominating Petitions for Director Benston’s expiring term were available in the District office from September 1, 2013 through October 4, 2013. A legal notice was published in the Mail Tribune on Wednesday September 11, 2013 announcing that the petitions were available. The deadline for filing the Nomination Petitions was on Friday, October 4, 2013.

Only one Nominating Petition was filed by the deadline and that was from Stephen Benston. Since only one Nominating Petition was received, the District will not be holding an election this year. Stephen Benston’s new term of office will be from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016.

Only one Nominating Petition was filed by the deadline and that was from Stephen Benston. Since only one Nominating Petition was received, the District will not be holding an election this year. Stephen Benston’s new term of office will be from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016. 

BEAR CREEK WATERSHED TMDL IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM 

       The District has been very consistent in mentioning the Bear Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Implementation Program in our newsletters for several years. This is an important subject and we want to keep reminding everyone of the importance of working to improve water quality in the Bear Creek Watershed. 

     The District just completed our 4th annual report and it was submitted to the Department of Environmental Qulaity on September 9, 2013. We are now working on our 5th year report and planning for what we can do to improve water quality for the next 5 year reporting period. 

CANAL/ROAD MAINTENANCE

AND RIGHT OF WAYS

                   Maintenance Season is here at Rogue River Valley Irrigation District. RRVID will be starting this year’s maintenance in an aggressive manner. Please remove all debris, obstacles, pipelines, bridges, walk boards, etc., in anticipation of our equipment coming your way. 

Those landowners who own property along the main canal are well aware of the maintenance that has to take place on a regular basis. Each Fall after the water has been shut off, the silt and vegetation needs to be removed from the canal. RRVID typically puts this material back across the canal road or uses it to level the road from damages caused by human and animal traffic during the spring. RRVID’s easements and right-of-ways are for District access, operation and maintenance only. They are not public right-of-ways. Entrance onto their easements and right-of-ways may constitute trespassing on the underlying landowner’s property. 

RRVID will be mowing the canal banks again this Fall and Spring. RRVID will be using our flail mowers that mount to our tractor to mow blackberries and brush along our right-of-ways. 

RRVID would like to request our water users to please limit the use of the canal ditch roads during the off-season. The use of these roads in the off season can cause undue damage to the ditch roads, and more work for our maintenance crew that has to fix them. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. 

ROGUE RIVER VALLEY IRRIGATION DISTRICT’S >>NO SPRAY AGREEMENT

If you are a landowner and would like to request that no chemicals are used to control plant growth on the District’s right of way on your property please call our office. Please contact our office annually to ensure that we have you on our No Spray List. To guarantee that we have the proper time to notify our ditch riders call the office before February 1st. 

IMPORTANT!!!

RECLAMATION REFORM ACT (RRA)

ANY LAND OWNER WHO OWNS AND/OR LEASES IRRIGATED LAND TOTALLY 40.1 ACRES OR MORE MUST ANNUALLY (OR MORE OFTEN) FILE RRA FORMS WITH THE DISTRICT OFFICE PRIOR TO RECEIVING IRRIGATION WATER.

The Bureau of Reclamation requires that RRA forms be on file prior to any water being delivered to the property of owners who own and/or lease irrigated land totaling 40.1 acres or more. If your landholdings change in any way during the irrigation season, which includes moving your property into a trust or the passing of one or more of the property owners, it is imperative that you contact the District office to update your RRA forms.

The District makes every effort to help landowners comply with the RRA regulations, but it is absolutely the landowner’s responsibility to understand the law and make sure that the correct forms are filled out and on file.

Please remember when you make any changes in your landholdings that put you at 40.1 acres or more owned and/or leased, to contact the District office for the necessary RRA forms. The District only updates our owner-ship records twice a year with Jackson County’s records so your diligence in communicating any changes you make to your landholdings is of the utmost importance. Once a deed is recorded at Jackson County it can take them a few months before the new ownership shows up on their website where we can access the information. If a landowner changes their ownership in any way, during the irrigation season and receives water without a new form on file, you will be fined by the Bureau of Reclamation.

BILLING AND PAYMENT INFORMATION 

We would like to remind everyone of the District’s billing schedule and payment due dates. The District operates on a fiscal year which begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st. The annual irrigation statements are mailed out no later than January 15th and are due by February 29th. If the account is not paid in full by February 28th, interest accrues at the rate of 16% per annum (1.33% per month) on the unpaid balance. The interest calculation is retroactive to the billing date of January 15th. THE DISTRICT DOES NOT SEND OUT ANY OTHER STATEMENTS DURING THE YEAR. 

The District accepts payments on all water user accounts. A payment agreement form can be picked up at the District Office. It is important to remember that interest will accrue on all unpaid balances at the rate of 1.33% per month. If the current year bill that was sent out in January is not paid by December 15th, the District will file a lien on the property for all unpaid irrigation fees, interest and a Lien Fee in the amount of $210.00 will be added to the account. The District does not accept debit, credit cards or checks over the phone. The District accepts cash, checks or money orders.

The District does not accept debit, credit cards or checks over the phone. The District accepts cash, checks or money orders. 

Rogue Valley Irrigation District would like to welcome 2 new employees to our district!

Chris Alcorn ~ Chris started working at RRVID in May of this year. Chris is our ditchrider for the East side. Chris was born and raised in Medford, Oregon and he is married and has 2 children. Chris loves the outdoors and some of his hobbies are hunting, fishing and ATV’ing. WELCOME TO RRVID CHRIS ALCORN !! 

Pam Hansen ~ Pam started working at RRVID in April of this year. Pam is an office assistant for our district. She was born in Golden, Colorado but has lived in Oregon most of her life. Pam is married and has 2 grown children and a few of her hobbies include cooking, gardening and boating. WELCOME TO RRVID PAM HANSEN !!

Letter from the Board:

Dear Water Users:                                                                                                                           December 1, 2013

At the close of the 2013 irrigation season, the District has met with the Budget Committee to evaluate our operating budget for 2014. During this process the Manager, Board and Budget Committee have reviewed our past and current issues that have made an impact on our operating budget and those that we are facing for the coming year.

ROGUE BASIN BIOLOGICAL OPINION & KLAMATH ADJUDICATION

We now have a full year of operation under the Rogue Basin Biological Opinion (Bi-Op) administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation. The three basin irrigation districts (MID, RRVID & TID) are mandated to release on average approximately 6,000 acre feet of water collectively for fish habitat that otherwise would have been used for irrigation or stored water. With the Bi-Op plan implementation the District has additional expenses operationally including staff time that affects the District’s bottom line.

As we entered 2013 we had on the horizon the Klamath Basin Adjudication process nearing completion. This process was initiated in 1975, administered by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) for the purpose of adjudicating pre-1909 water rights in the KlamathBasin which will “firm-up” the water rights and water use. In March 2013, the Adjudicator, OWRD issued its Findings of Fact and Final Order of Determination (FOD). In the next phase of the adjudication, the Klamath County Circuit Court will hear any objections to the FOD and then issue a water rights decree. In May 2013 the District’s entered our legal claims and contest where applicable to give all three districts standing as the FOD is challenged by some 1,200 parties.

OWRD will now regulate the Klamath Basin according to the FOD. This affirmed the legal right of senior water right claimants with pre-1909 priority dates were able to place a “call,” shutting off water use by junior water right holders. As a result during the 2013 irrigation season, many water right holders who have had reliable access to water for over 100 years found themselves high and dry.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO RRVID PATRONS?

The three irrigation districts (MID, RRVID & TID) supply irrigation, municipal and industrial water to over 35,000 acres in the Rogue Basin. The Districts depend in part on a 1910 water right to store and divert water from Fourmile Reservoir in the Klamath Basin over to the Rogue Basin which is operated and maintained by MID and RRVID. The use of that Fourmile Reservoir water right is now in jeopardy because the Klamath Basin Adjudicator granted several very large senior priority claims by the federal government on behalf of the Klamath Tribes, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the US Forest Service. In late August 2013 OWRD issued a headgate order requiring MID and RRVID to install a structure capable of releasing and measuring Fourmile water into the Klamath Basin. The federal government is expected to assert its senior claims in 2014, likely leading to a call on the Districts’ 1910 water right. If we lose Fourmile Reservoir, it will jeopardize the reliability of water that the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District patrons have traditionally received.

RRVID in cooperation with MID and TID have been working hard with our legal team on the Klamath Adjudication for a number of years. To date we have completed contest proceedings before administrative law judges and are participating in stay litigation before the decree judge in the Klamath County Circuit Court. We have entered into further litigation filing a motion of reconsideration on the headgate and measuring device order. In spring 2014 we will challenge the Adjudicator’s decision to award senior water rights to the federal government. In the meantime, we will likely need to defend a call against the Fourmile water right.

ENVIRONMENTAL WATER RIGHT PROTECTION ASSESSMENT

The District finds itself with increased operation and maintenance costs with continued legal expenditures to protect and defend the water rights dedicated to the irrigated acres within our district. The Board with the recommendation of the Budget Committee is implementing new budget guidelines to continue the solvency of RRVID, meet our Bureau of Reclamation facility reserve requirements and fund our continued litigation costs protecting your water right.

  1. 1.The District is charged with operation and maintenance of our facilities and delivery of water to each point of delivery that serves the landowners irrigated land. To maintain our current operation with no improvements requires an increase in the per acre fee which increases 2% to $59.16 per acre. It was decided not to increase the account fee this year. The manufacturing water right needs to be brought into line with the actual per acre feet of use and will increase 20% to $57.96 per acre feet.

     2.       The District is charged with the protection and proper use of the certificated water right within              the district boundary. January 2013 to date we are averaging monthly environmental and legal      protection cost of $6,000 per month or approximately $72,000            for the year ending December 2013. To continue this requirement we can no longer rely fully on the District’s general fund          and are implementing an Environmental and Water Rights Assessment. The Board and Budget         committee considered various ways to fund this assessment that would be fair and equitable to            all water users. The Board and Budget committee considered a large assessment to recoup the     costs for the year paid out plus the need for additional revenue for 2014. This assessment              would be approximately $8.00 per acre. Also considered was a long term lower assessment to            be collected for up to five years with the option to extend or increase. This is the option        the Board is implementing. We decided to assess the patrons based on acreage                 categories at a rate of .09% of the annual assessment of the lowest acreage amount in                                each category as follows:

                Acreage Categories

               

                Acreage Amount        Category Number            Annual Amount Due

                .01 – 4.99                              #1                                            $18.82

                5.00 -09.99                          #2                                            $40.12

                10.00 – 49.99                       #3                                            $66.74

                50.00 – 99.99                       #4                                            $279.72

                100.00 - +                              #5                                            $545.94

                It is estimated the annual revenue will be $37,415 per year. This will not cover the entire          expenditures to date or the immediate subsequent years but it will assist off-setting the impact             to the general fund. The remaining balance each year will continue to be paid out of the reserve    account until paid back by the assessment revenues. It is anticipated the assessment will remain               in place until the current and future environmental and water rights legal fund expenditures are paid back in full.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

If history is the forecast of the future, there will be continued long-term challenges to our water rights along with environmental challenges and we must be prepared to defend our rights and irrigation capability to the lands within the district. Our personnel, facilities and equipment to operate and maintain our system is at its limits and we have started spending our reserves down. The Board and Budget Committee have decided this is not fiscally responsible to continue to do so.

The District continues to look for other revenue opportunities through partnerships and applying for grants to help reduce the burden on all of the water users. We are also involved in the Jackson County Regional Problem Solving process and represent Irrigation on the Agricultural Task Force to improve the District’ stance as our region develops within our district boundary and our infrastructure is accounted for and improved when built over. This is also an opportunity to discuss the use of the right water for the right use with the trend for potable water conservation in our valley.

We are continuing to maintain our system to the best of our ability with the limited resources we have to keep water deliveries to your irrigated land. The service that we provide is of the utmost importance to all of us and the District continues to be as efficient and cost effective as possible while dealing with all the challenges.

If any of you have any questions, concerns or ideas that you feel will benefit the District, please contact the District office or any of your Board members.

Sincerely,

RRVID Board