Frequently Asked Questions


1) When is irrigation season?

April 15th is the first day irrigation can legally begin. The season continues through September 30th.


2) Why do I see water in the irrigation canals before April 15th?

Water is introduced into the system in early March and various canals and pipelines are incrementally charged from then until mid-April. The water in the system during the initial fill can only be used for filling sprayers (sprayhead) and frost control. It cannot be used for irrigation. Similiarly, in the fall, water is gradually cut back after the end of the irrigation season with spray head provided until sometime during the last week of October.


3) When I pay my bill, for what am I paying?
Your bill is made up of two parts. The first part is a per tax lot charge and the second part is a per acre or part thereof charge, e.g., in 2016 the charge would be $175 per tax lot, plus $59 per acre or part thereof.  For example, if the per tax lot charge is $175 and you have 2 acres of water rights, then  your fee would be $59 x 2 acres = $118.00. Add $175 for your tax lot charge, and your annual bill is $293.00.


4) When will I receive my irrigation bill?

The District bills its patrons in mid-October of the year preceding the irrigation season. Payment is due no later than April 1st of the following year. Reminder statements are sent in late February. The District assesses a late fee of $70 if not paid by the due date.


5) How do I determine my water right amount?
Your water right amount is shown on your statement and is determined by the amount of land that can actually be irrigated on your property.  The Oregon State Water Master for our region oversees water use in the Hood River Basin.  East Fork Irrigation District’s water right allotment is 4.49 gallons per minute (gpm) per water right acre. (An acre foot of water is the volume of water required to cover one acre of land one foot deep.)


6) How much water do I get? Where does it come from?
To determine how much water you may use in gallons per minute, multiply your water right acres by 4.49. For example, if you have 0.25 water right acres, then 0.25 water right acres x 4.49 gpm/acre = 1.1 gallons per minute for you to apply to your land. Your water right never provides enough water to irrigate all of your acreage at once. It is necessary to rotate your sprinklers on a regular basis to cover all your land. By using low flow micro-sprinklers, you will be able to more efficiently irrigate larger areas of your property without exceeding your water right allocation. Your irrigation water comes from the East Fork Hood River off of the Northeastern slope of Mount Hood.


7) Why is it important that I use only my allotted amount of water?
State law and District water conservation policy do not allow diversion of water from streams and rivers above the amount stated in the District water rights certificates. If each irrigation district member uses only his or her share of water, then there is enough water to go around, and the District is also able to leave appropriate amounts of water in-stream for fish needs as well. Using beyond one’s water right causes other individuals in the District to go without their full water delivery.  Some areas, including homeowners associations, have District installed dole valves to ensure that only the proper amount of water is allocated to the property. If you try to operate more sprinklers than your water right will allow, your pressure will drop and the sprinklers will not work efficiently. Simply reduce the total number of sprinklers operating at one time until your system is balanced to optimal pressure.


8) What is the biggest cause of water supply problems to my property?
Aside from problems associated with trying to use too much water (as described in the question immediately above this one), a clogged filter is usually the cause of water supply problems to individual properties.  If you establish a regular schedule to clean your irrigation water filter, you will typically enjoy a trouble-free irrigation season.


9) What do I do if my water has low pressure or volume?
Assuming you are not attempting to use more than your water right allows (see Question 5, above), first check to make sure your main valve is open. Next, inspect your irrigation filter to ensure that your filter is free of sediment and debris. Clean your filter if needed. If all valves are in the “on” position and your filter is clean (and you are not overusing), then check the “Irrigation Delivery Status” link on our Homepage, or you can call East Fork Irrigation District at 541-354-1185 for updates. Interruptions in service can sometimes happen due to service line breaks, maintenance work, flushing the Sandtraps or, sometimes, natural events such as debris torrents or earthquakes.


10) Why is the irrigation water dirty?
Water to East Fork Irrigation District comes from the East Fork Hood River, which has heavy glacial sediment.  Furthermore, the large District conveyance canals are not yet fully piped, and leaves and other debris can fall into the canal water as it flows to the District’s pipelines. During periods of dirty water, such as later in the summer when glacial sediment is high or we are excavating silt from the main larger canals, it can sometimes be necessary to clean your filter several times per day. (This is also a good place to remind you that District water is not for human consumption or other domestic uses.)


11) Is the irrigation water safe to drink?
No.  District irrigation water is unsuitable and unsafe for human consumption.  Since it typically contains a high amount of abrasive material and is untreated, don't play in the sprinkler, don't fill your swimming pool or spa and don't wash your car with irrigation water.  Washing your house windows with irrigation water can permanently mar the windows.


12) May I use my irrigation water for any purposes other than irrigation?
The short answer is “no.”  While District farmers are allowed to use their water for other commercial farming purposes under special separate water rights, most District users must restrict their water use to irrigation only.


13) Why is my neighbor able to run more sprinklers than I?
You might think that the short answer here is that we like your neighbor better than you, but that’s not true. Assuming your neighbor is not stealing water by using more than his or her water right, and, furthermore, assuming you and your neighbor are both using the same type of sprinklers, the real answer is that your neighbor has a larger water right than you and, therefore, may use more sprinklers.


14) How do I winterize my irrigation system?
To winterize your system, leave both valves and the filter ball valve fully open and drain water from your pipes, pressure reducers and filters.


15) How do I change the name and/or address on my property?
Names of owner(s) and property addresses are changed in the District’s data base only upon receipt of written notice from Hood River County that such a change has been made and recorded with the County.  It is District policy to bill only the owner of record, not renters or lessors.  You may change your mailing address by contacting District staff who will make the change in the data base.