Impact of artificial flooding on farm profits and streamflow in Echo Meadows, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8s45qd32b

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  • Competition for water both from within the irrigation community and from outside interests has been a major source of conflict in the West. In the Umatilla Basin of central Oregon, Umatilla River water is diverted to irrigate a variety of crops, while instream flows have value in salmonid production. Historically, the Umatilla Basin supported runs of fall and spring Chinook as well as steelhead and resident trout but native fish populations have largely disappeared from the river system. The decline in salmonid production has been blamed, in part, on a combination of low streamflow and high water temperatures in the summer months resulting from diversions by agricultural users. This thesis examines a proposed project designed to increase streamflow in the lower Umatilla River during the summer months by artificially flooding selected agricultural land in the Echo Meadows area of the basin during the late winter. The thesis also examines alternative options to increase streamflow. Estimates of the economic and hydrologic impacts of winter water spreading and other options provides information to policy-makers and irrigators on the costs and benefits associated with various project management alternatives. Using information on agricultural production and water supply in the lower Umatilla Basin, this thesis constructs a mathematical optimization model of representative farms in the area. In addition, because return flows represent an important component of streamflow in summer months, water applications determined by the representative farm models are used to assess the impacts of the artificial flooding project on streamflow in the Umatilla River below the study area. The results of the representative farm models indicate that the artificial flooding project increases farm profits by $37,620 and streamflow by 18.58 cubic feet per second. Alternative techniques to obtain similar increases in streamflow are more costly and would have negative effects on the agricultural community.
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