Who Owns the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District? Who does it answer to?
The Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District is a special-purpose district organized under Idaho state law in 1906. As a quasi-government, it’s owned by rate payers in the same sense that a city is “owned” by residents/voters. LOID is organized under state law, we answer to Idaho State; because we had a mortgage held by the Bureau of Reclamation. LOID answers to the US government, and because we are governed by an elected Board of Directors, the district answers to our rate payers/voters.
Is it true that the LOID uses more water with irrigation conservation schedules than without?
No, the actual usage of water drops by approximately 1/3 when the District puts the conservation schedule into effect.
I heard that we drilled a new well, why does the LOID say we still have a water shortage?
Well water is not part of the primary irrigation water supply system (The Lutes Addition receives no irrigation system water, only domestic well water). During peak periods, the irrigation water usage can be more than ten times the amount of the domestic water usage.
Why doesn’t the District drill several domestic wells to supplement the irrigation system water supply?
The District would have to drill many wells to compensate for the high irrigation water demand during the peak months of mid June through mid September. Wells are expensive, and if used only for irrigation purposes, would only be necessary for three months of the year. Therefore, drilling additional wells would be a poor solution from both an operational and financial standpoint.
Why am I being charged full price for my irrigation water when I can only use it a portion of the week?
The irrigation bill that you receive from the District is to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the irrigation water collection, holding and distribution system. The District bills you for your fair share of those costs regardless of whether there is a high water year or a low “drought” water year.
Why not go to the City to solve our irrigation water needs?
The City of Lewiston and the District currently have a connection between their domestic water systems which allows for the transmission of approximately one million gallons of water per day. At peak production, the District can produce an additional five million gallons a day. During a peak summer day, the District will use anywhere from fifteen to twenty million gallons of irrigation water. Even if the District could utilize the additional water from the city or its own system, it would not meet the needs of the Districts’ irrigation water requirements. Additional domestic water from either the City or the District is not an effective alternative to solve our irrigation water needs.
Why don’t we go to the Clearwater River to solve our water needs?
That may be an option. However, in 1979 the patrons of LOID voted 767 for and 1,273 against a bond proposal to cover the cost of bringing irrigation water from a pumping station on the Clearwater River to replace and/or supplement the current irrigation system. Since that time there have been several changes (growth, weather and fisheries issues) affecting the District that would make a pumping plant from the Clearwater River an enviable asset. Estimates to install a pumping plant and related piping to bring water from the Clearwater River to the LOID system have ranged from 25 to 40 million dollars, which would have a significant impact to existing rates. As an example, the existing fifteen year bond that the District patrons approved in 1997 for $2.8 million dollars costs each patron $2.40 per month for 15 years.
How did the District get to the point where it has to have restrictions?
First, the District population has increased to 18,000 people from a much smaller population just 25 years earlier. Second, the federal Safety of Dams Act required that the Mann Lake reservoir be rebuilt to its current configuration and limits. Because of this regulation, the District was required to drop the elevation of the lake in the early 1990’s to restrict the amount of water that the dam was holding as a safety precaution until the dam could be rebuilt in 1997. The lowering of the elevation of the lake caused the District to lose approximately 1,000 acre feet (325,851,000 gallons) of its usual irrigation water supply. The Bureau of Reclamation has brought the dam into compliance with current safety standards, but those standards do not allow the District to increase the elevation back to its previous level. In simple terms, the demand for water has increased while the supply has decreased. Add to the equation drought like weather conditions and the conservation situation becomes even more complicated.
Why does the District have such poor water pressure during the conservation hours?
Demand sometimes exceeds the irrigation water distribution system’s capability. The District needs to continue to increase the size of its pipes to keep up with the demand caused by the increased population. This has been a major area of focus by the District and will continue to be a focus until the situation is resolved. Until the District is able to replace and enlarge some of the existing pipelines, pressure will be lower during peak demand times.
What is my water allotment?
Each patron within the irrigation district is allotted 2.2 acre feet each watering season. Delivery is not guaranteed. Droughts, equipment or facility failures, or acts beyond our control may reduce the amount in any given season.
How do I get more water?
You don’t. The allotment of water is set by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Lewiston Orchards Irrigation District is working to install meters on each irrigation service to help ensure each patron receives their fair and equitable water allotment.
What can I do to help?
The best help you can be for the District is to water within your watering schedule and to remember that too much water will harm your lawn. One of the biggest complaints the office receives is that patrons will leave their water running all night long in the same spot because it is their scheduled time to water. Keep in mind that watering the same area of your yard for more than an hour is not a wise use of water.