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TID gives three-day extension before water shutoff

TALENT — Talent Irrigation District officials announced Tuesday that water shutoff plans for the year would be extended to Friday.

Canals were initially set to close Tuesday, Sept. 15, but district officials assessed critically low supplies, and board members opted to keep irrigation flowing for a few more days to provide some relief after the devastation from recent fires.

District Manager Jim Pendleton said the district experienced heavy damage and significant loss. Power to the district office, one of few structures in the area to survive, was restored Monday evening after nearly a week.

“We definitely got our tail feathers singed,” he said. “The office is back open but we experienced quite a bit of equipment damage and several shops lost. We lost three of our shops, two dump trucks, an excavator, trailer and an equipment hauler.”

“Nobody was injured although two of our employees’ houses burned to the ground. Since the fire started, we have been trying to keep our 250 miles of canals and ladders running by operating on cellphones and handheld radios.”

Pendleton said irrigation water had helped some residents — without power and water due to electric-powered wells being down — to feed livestock, wet down properties and even flush toilets.

Tina Reuwsaat, a Coleman Creek Road resident, said she was concerned about the shutoff occurring Tuesday and was grateful for the extension for her own property and for neighbors. The Almeda fire burned dangerously close to her home, and power was out on her property from Tuesday until Monday evening.

Reuwsaat’s 112-year-old home had an old well, with access under a porch that wasn’t accessible, leaving her and her husband with irrigation district water to protect their property and flush toilets. They made store trips for drinking water.

“It’s wonderful they could extend it, and we really appreciate it so much,” she said. “Some people did have access to their wells, but houses like ours were not so lucky. The Talent irrigation water was all that we had for the property.

“We put irrigation water in our koi pond and saved our 15 koi, and we were able to get water to parts of the property that are critically dry. We heard they were turning it off on Tuesday, which was upsetting. We had been scrambling around and just finally got a little pump working and got some water, so the extension was a huge deal for us.”

Pendleton said that given the fire situation and lingering evacuation orders, the district wished it could run for longer, however “does not have the supplies to do so.”

“We know how important water is right now, but the reservoirs are getting dangerously low and we don’t want to damage the outlet works on the reservoirs,” he said.

“Stream flow is all but gone, and reservoirs are at historic lows. Some of them have not been this low since the project was built. 2020 is gonna be the year to match historic low water years.”

Pendleton offered his condolences for the sheer amount of loss in the valley.

“We don’t have a neighbor standing for a few blocks around us,” he said. “I’m really surprised this office stood, to be honest. As far as water supplies, we were out there physically looking and watching reservoirs and seeing what they’re up to, and we think we can get to Friday, just barely though.

“We want to help however we can, but we gotta shut it off on Friday. We all need to hope for a really wet, really snowy winter or we’ll have real problems next year.”

Online: www.talentid.org.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Andy Atkinson / Ashland Tidings The path along the TID canal dead ends near Bill Shanor’s home.