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Overhydrated: Dayville residents complain of saturated properties

The reason for the subsurface water is unknown
Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on September 12, 2017 5:45PM

Rich Boren gestures at an irrigation ditch in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Rich Boren gestures at an irrigation ditch in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Standing water on Rich Boren’s property in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

The Eagle/Rylan Boggs

Standing water on Rich Boren’s property in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Tim Briggs measures water draining from his property in Dayville. On Wednesday, Aug. 2 there were roughly 3 gallons a minute draining off his property.

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Tim Briggs measures water draining from his property in Dayville. On Wednesday, Aug. 2 there were roughly 3 gallons a minute draining off his property.

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Sprinklers run in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Sprinklers run in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Water seeps from under South Fork Road in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Water seeps from under South Fork Road in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Rich Boren gestures across his property in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Rich Boren gestures across his property in Dayville on Wednesday, Aug. 2.

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Tim Briggs measures water over 5 feet deep on his property in Dayville, Wednesday, Aug. 2. Briggs dug this hole to demonstrate how much water runs down into his property.

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Tim Briggs measures water over 5 feet deep on his property in Dayville, Wednesday, Aug. 2. Briggs dug this hole to demonstrate how much water runs down into his property.

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DAYVILLE — Despite the hot, dry summer, some Dayville residents are experiencing highly saturated properties.

Mildew, mold and flooding have damaged Dayville resident Rich Boren’s property, as well as his neighbors.

Boren said the water stems from two different sources. The first is the flood irrigation of property above the South Fork Road, and the second is the Cummings Ditch, which he said is leaking.

Boren said a handful of property owners are improperly irrigating and damaging properties below. He said he has communicated with the landowners repeatedly, but they refuse to change their watering practices.

The problem has been going on for decades and Boren said people are finally fed up with it.

“Mother Nature doesn’t flood this property, it’s man,” he said.

He estimates the excess water has cut the value of one of his South Fork Road properties in half.

He points to draws on private property that were dry in the past and are now swamps. Some landowners are over-irrigating and running sprinklers for a week straight at times, he said.

“The damage is done and I want damage to stop so I can do something to those properties,” Boren said. “At this time I can’t do anything with them.”


Reasons unknown


“The Oregon Water Resources Department knows that some residents are concerned about subsurface water in the South Fork Road area in Dayville,” Diana Enright, Public Information official for the Oregon Water Resources Department, said. “We have been to the area and talked to the landowner a number of times.”

She said the reason for the subsurface water is unknown, but said they were willing to work with watershed councils and soil and water conservation districts to find a solution.

“Unlined ditches, such as the Cummings Ditch, do leak, but the amount depends on soil conditions and ditch maintenance,” Enright said. “Piping or lining ditches reduces water loss.”

The ditch doesn’t appear to be using more water than is allocated either.

“The measuring device on the ditch indicates that the ditch company is within their legal limits of water use,” Enright said. “The last water use report submitted for the Cummings Ditch shows annual use of 2,130 acre-feet of water, which is within the city’s authorized water right.”


Soggy soil


Dayville resident Mary MacArthur said it’s hard to pinpoint what is causing the saturation. Without a study conducted by experts, she said it would be hard to say if the problem came from over-irrigating, the ditch or something else.

She said the water is something that’s been dealt with without a problem for the last 50-60 years.

“If it’s on your property, fix it,” she said.

Boren isn’t the only resident dealing with soggy property. Tim Briggs lives across the street from Boren, and his lot is heavily saturated.

To demonstrate the saturation, Briggs dug a 6-foot-deep hole in his lawn. It was a matter of days until the hole was overflowing with ground water.

On a hill at the edge of Briggs’ property, a pipe drains water from his property. There are about 3 to 6 gallons a minute coming off the property, according to Briggs.

However, it doesn’t appear any laws are being broken.

“We are not aware of any water laws that we enforce being broken on the Cummings Ditch,” District Four Watermaster Eric Julsrud said. “OWRD checks to make sure water is being put to beneficial use and meets the terms of water right certificate. We do not tell authorized water users how to irrigate.”









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