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Energy Trust of Oregon, Ag Group Share Much-Sought Honor for Water Work

Portland Business Journal, Morning Edition, Jun 16, 2016, 6:37am PDT

Two Oregon groups have received kudos for water programs they say save billions of gallons annually.

Farmers Conservation Alliance and Energy Trust of Oregon received the 2016 State Leadership in Clean Energy Award State Leadership in Clean Energy Award, given by the Clean Energy States Alliance.

ETO Ag Group IM Award picture from Biz Journal Art 6_17_16

A screenshot from a video produced touting the water-saving system developed by Energy Trust of Oregon and Farmers Conservation Alliance.

The award “recognizes the coordinated and comprehensive approach developed by Energy Trust and FCA to help irrigation districts and the farmers they serve develop modern irrigation systems that can save billions of gallons of water annually.”

The system solves the problem of evaporation from open irrigation canals, which draw water from rivers and other water sources.

The Irrigation Modernization Program “helps irrigation districts find the funding and resources they need to create state-of-the-art irrigation systems that replace open canals with pipes,” the groups said in a release announcing the award.

As such, more water is left in-stream for fish and wildlife.

“The work done by the Farmers Conservation Alliance is a powerful example of how irrigation modernization can address multiple challenges and provide multiple benefits,” said Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, in a release. “The potential exists over the next decade for irrigation districts across the state to upgrade to more modern infrastructure, saving water, restoring streams and generating green, renewable energy.

“These investments in irrigation systems are also investments in the future resiliency, competitiveness and livability of Oregon’s rural economies.”

Energy Trust is based in Portland while Farmers Conservation Alliance is based in Hood River.

 

EPA showcases the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s use of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to support irrigation upgrades in the Hood River Valley.

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Irrigation systems are being retrofit to generate hydropower.

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With a light touch on a touch screen panel Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Dionne Thompson fired up a 700k turbine at Three Sisters Irrigation District in Central Oregon last Friday.

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Three Sisters Irrigation District has proved streams, fish and irrigators all can prosper when irrigation is handled properly.

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Farmers Irrigation District, a nonprofit government agency founded in 1874, has installed a new hydropower turbine at its Hood River power house in a $4.96 million renewable energy project.

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At the flip of a switch, the turbine in a new 700Kw power generating plant at Three Sisters Irrigation District’s Watson Reservoir began to hum last Friday.

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Something remarkable has happened on Whychus Creek over the past two decades.

A stream that once ran dry in the summer now flows through Sisters even in the midst of drought. And this was done without harming farmers who depend on its waters for irrigation. In fact, they are getting more water than they might have expected under current conditions. And habitat for fish and wildlife is better than it has been since perhaps the early 1960s.

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Officials from a number of state agencies joined the Three Sisters Irrigation District and Energy Trust of Oregon to inaugurate the 700-KW Watson hydropower plant earlier this month.

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