The wet season is finally here. Before it is forgotten that 2001 was a harsh drought year, some thanks are in order. Thanks to the many fruit growers who fixed leaks this summer, changed irrigation equipment, or measured soil moisture levels. Thanks to the many others who staked in "another brown lawn" sign, or made some kind of personal effort to reduce water waste. Thanks to the County Extension Service and the Master Gardeners for taking on water conservation education. You made a difference. So did the Hood River Valley's irrigation districts. For instance, the Middle Fork Irrigation District released an extra 5.8 million gallons per day below Laurance Lake to keep 19 steelhead nests covered with water. Farmers Irrigation District gave out free soil moisture readers to growers, and by doing so recouped four times its investment by generating electricity on the saved water, while returning more cold water to the lower Hood River than it would have seen without the program. East Fork Irrigation District cut back on its diversion, enough to keep the East Fork Hood River flowing. Otherwise it would have gone dry, like it has during lesser droughts. It's worth saying that cooperation, conservation, and a relatively cool summer -- helped the Hood River Valley steer clear of water restrictions and keep streams flowing in the 2001 drought. Now let's hope for a deep snowpack in 2002.
Hood River Soil and Water Conservation District