Established in 1918, the Central Oregon Irrigation
District ("COID") is a Municipal Corporation of the State
The system consists of two main canals: the Pilot Butte Canal, which runs
north, through Bend, Redmond and Terrebonne; and the Central Oregon Canal,
which runs east, through Bend, Alfalfa and Powell Butte. Both canals divert water from the
The District provides water for about 45,000 acres
within an 180,000 acre area in Central Oregon. More than 700 miles of canals provide
agricultural and industrial water to the Terrebonne, Redmond, Bend, Alfalfa
and Powell Butte areas. In
addition, COID provides water to the City of Redmond and numerous subdivisions;
in Bend, many parks and schools receive water through the COID system.
In 1989, COID commissioned and completed the Siphon
Power Project. Profits from the power plant will
be returned to the District to be used for capital improvements to make
our distribution system more efficient.
In addition, the COID is the managing partner in
the operation of the 55,000 acre foot Crane Prairie Reservoir, located
on the east side of the Central Cascades.
The Cascade Mountains provide more than just a scenic
backdrop for the people living in Central Oregon. They are at the same time a blessing
and a curse. While the mountains
block the rains from Central Oregon, they also accumulate a vast reservoir
of snow. This snow melts
during warmer months to swell the rivers, filling canals, irrigating semi-arid
A.M. Drake initiated the first water diversion
company in Central Oregon,
the Pilot Butte Development Company, that also platted and mapped Bend,
Oregon. Prior to any water running, the company was sold to the Deschutes
Irrigation & Power Company (D. I. & P.) the precursor of Central
Oregon Irrigation Company.
“Free land in Oregon, in the richest grain, fruit
and stock section in the world!” was D. I. & P.’s aggressive sales
campaign, offering land to settlers for the cost of irrigation. 1904
marked the flow of irrigation water to the first 40 acres of land. By 1924, the local population had
grown to 2,000 people with an impressive 28,500 acres under irrigation. Irrigation
helped create the city of Bend and helped drive its growth and industrialization
to its present levels.
Before any water was diverted from the Deschutes
River, appropriations to divert had to be filed with the State of Oregon.
The filing had to identify where the diversion would occur and
how much water would be diverted. Today,
those very same appropriations are still in force.
Water rights were assigned on a first-come, first-serve
basis. But the ranch at the
start of the canal must conserve and husband the use if there is to be
any water for a ranch at the end of the canal. That same philosophy still holds
sway today. Clean water is
a resource to share and respect.
By 1907, the Central Oregon and Pilot Butte Canals
had been constructed. In 1910,
as a result of foreclosure and ensuing reorganization, the Central Oregon
Irrigation Company was created. On
December 17, 1917 the Central Oregon Irrigation Company was turned over
to its users who organized the Central Oregon Irrigation District. The
transition was not without rancor and was finally resolved by the courts
on July 9, 1921.
The construction of canals and dams continued. 1912 saw the completion of the
North Canal Dam and connection to the Pilot Butte Canal. To accommodate the need for increased
industrial water flow, the Pilot Butte Canal was terminated just north
of the town site. The Pilot
Butte Canal diversion is a dam located immediately south of the Riverhouse
Motel in Bend. The Central
Oregon Canal diversion is at the south city limits of Bend.
The District employs patrolmen who oversee the delivery
of irrigation water. These
patrolmen serve a particular portion of the district, delivering water
to users and taking daily water readings.
The Carey Act of August 18, 1894 initiated many
of these irrigation projects by authorizing the federal government to
contract with the states for land reclamation. The water rights established under
the Carey Act were inchoate or temporary until the land was actually irrigated
and producing crops. The State
decided that as of June 30, 1950 sufficient time had passed to establish
the rights as required by the Carey Act. As numerous claims had been made, both by the districts and
private parties, it was not until 1958 that the courts finalized the various
claims and rights to the Deschutes River water.
Throughout this time, various upgrades were necessary.
Wooden flumes were replaced by steel pipes, and mechanical cleaners
added to intake screens. In
1938 COID, Crook County Improvement (Lone Pine) District and the Arnold
Irrigation District formed a cooperative effort with the federal government
to construct a dam at Crane Prairie for winter water storage.
In 1989, after nearly ten years of work, COID completed
the Siphon Power Project. This
hydroelectric power plant can produce 5.5 megawatts of electricity, which
is being sold to Pacific Power. This enables the District to further
develop capital improvements to make the distribution system more efficient
and upgrade the canal system to benefit the water users.
No new amounts of water are available. Surface water in Central Oregon
is a finite resource. The
only way additional water will become available to COID’s subscribers
is through conservation.
The District is very much the product and tool of
its subscribers. It provides
municipal and industrial irrigation water to over 4,000 accounts and to
the Cities of Bend and Redmond. Like any municipal corporation, COID
exists solely to serve its constituents and relies on them for its well-being. COID is proud of its partnership in the development of Central
Oregon. We all look forward
to continued involvement in our future and as part of that we actively
support the conservation of all our natural resources.