Owyhee Dam

The Owyhee Dam and reservoir near Adrian, Ore. Irrigation managers say they will begin providing water to at least some area farmers in April.

The Joint Committee on the Owyhee Project on April 8 plans to turn on the irrigation system for the season.

The date is tentative, and could change based on weather and demand.

Recent cool, damp conditions notwithstanding, the area often gets windier as well as warmer in spring. Meanwhile, working the soil for planting can dry its top profile, or layer.

“If it dries out, some of these crops will need water fairly quickly,” said Jay Chamberlin, who manages the Nyssa, Ore.-based Owyhee Irrigation District. “We may just water up a portion of the project” initially.

The system’s upper part includes sandier, lighter soils that can dry quickly depending on conditions and may need water first, he said.

Deliveries to irrigators typically start 7 to 10 days after the initial release. Fully charging the 700-mile canal system usually takes about three weeks.

Owyhee Reservoir was 51% full March 21, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported. It contains nearly 365,000 acre-feet of water. Chamberlin said more than 500,000 are needed for full allotments, “but with the abundance of snowpack, we are confident that will be there, with more to come.”

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