Yes. Westland Irrigation District is continuously looking to improve the district’s efficiency and contain costs for its patrons. Currently, the largest WID undertaking is the removal of Dillon Dam along the Umatilla River. Serious considerations for the dam’s removal began in 2011 and were advanced by the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council. In 2016, the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council proposed that the dam, located between Echo and Stanfield, be removed. The dam serves three water rights holders, and under a new plan, the water will instead be diverted from the Westland Irrigation Dam through a new pipeline connecting to the Dillon Canal. In May of 2016, the removal project received a $179,700 grant from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Restoration and Enhancement Board. A complete summary of findings prepared by the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council can be found here.
In addition to the Dillon Dam removal project, Westland is working on updates to its own infrastructure. This includes a safety-focused effort to install telemetry towers, which will send alerts when water levels rise above a certain point. The District is also in the process of assessing a gate improvement project at the split of the A and B canals, which will allow for increased control of water diversion. Further updates about these and other projects can always be found on our website, Facebook page, and newsletter.
The Westland Irrigation District has a maintained a constructive relationship with the CTUIR on water issues for many decades. The Umatilla Basin Project Act is a good example. After years of collaborative work, Congress approved a new law to shift the diversions of the districts from the Umatilla to the Columbia River, improving instream conditions in the Umatilla for fish and wildlife. Phases I and II of this law has contributed to the restoration of salmon in the region. In 2006, the CTUIR and Westland signed an MOA requesting that the Department of Interior (DOI) complete an engineering study on the planned third phase of the law. Then, in 2007, the DOI announced the Umatilla Basin Water Supply Study (UBWSS), a plan to conduct an appraisal-level water supply study of the Umatilla River. Work on this project began in June 2012 and included the participation of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Umatilla River Federal Indian Water Rights Assessment Team, CTUIR, Westland , and the Oregon Water Resources Department. The UBWSS explored a number of options, and work continues on this project. A full final report of the UBWSS can be found here.