Water Rights

 

East Fork Irrigation District ("District") has one point of diversion from the East Fork Hood River for approximately 9500 acres of water rights allocated to this District by the State of Oregon.   The District holds seven certificates for irrigation, one permit for agricultural spraying, frost and fire protection and a small amount (10.8 acres) of industrial water rights used on a lumber mill.  Of those 9500 water right acres, 8500 acres have an 1895 priority date (senior rights) and the remaining acres have priority dates in the 1960’s and 1970’s (junior rights).  Water rights are mapped specifically to an area of land which then reflects the area of irrigation water use.   If irrigation water is used outside of the specific area of use, it is considered water spreading which is not allowed by the District. 

 

The Hood River Basin is closed to any additional or new surface water rights.  The District works diligently to manage its water rights that are allocated by the State of Oregon.  A water right should be used beneficially at least once within a consecutive five-year period to avoid forfeiture.   Beneficial use of a water right includes irrigating a crop, lawn, garden, etc. but does not include irrigating a forest floor, wasteland, driveways, etc. 

 

The District maintains a Water Rights Wait List to which landowners may apply for new or additional water rights for their property.  Currently, the Wait List has more than 40 landowners requesting nearly 115 acres of irrigation water rights.  When a subdivision or major/minor partition is developed within the District, water rights are removed from under the structures, roads and driveways.   These water rights are allocated to the landowners on the Wait List by application date and readiness to use the water.  Wait List recipients with large acre requests are granted a maximum of 5 acres at one time.  After a landowner has received the maximum 5 acres, the original application with any remaining water acres is moved to the bottom of the list.  Satisfying landowners on the Wait List has been a slow process, but the District is continuing to allocate water rights to the Wait List.

 

The District uses District Permanent and Temporary Transfer applications to manage and maintain District water rights.  A District Permanent Transfer is used to change the “place of use” of a water right.   A District Notice of Transfer stating the change is filed with Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) for review and approval.   At the end of the calendar year, a District Transfer Petition which includes all the notices is submitted to OWRD requesting a permanent transfer of the water rights.  The landowners included in the transfer have two years to install a delivery system and to irrigate the land “beneficially."  District staff will make an on site inspection and submit a final proof report to OWRD which will complete the transfer process. 

 

A District Temporary Transfer is used to move water rights from one land to another land for only one irrigation season.   Currently, this application is being used by two farmers who are trying to establish a crop prior to receiving approval from OWRD for a ground water application.  Also, the Dist rict had one grower who established a vineyard with water rights from a temporary transfer and then, after a few years, began “dry land” farming the grapes. 

 

If you have questions concerning the water rights that are appurtenant to your property, please contact the office.