The most severe Drought to hit Southern Oregon in decades, coupled with record high temperatures, are leaving the agriculture businesses and residents in the Rogue Valley high and dry. The heat is not helping endeavors with orchards and vineyards. Available water to grow crops is a key part of successful agriculture. The dry region is great for grape production, but water is still a necessity.
Over the last few days, temperature ranges have been reported at 115º to 120º in the late afternoons. Mike Preber, from Hill to Valley Air Conditioning, noted that his team has been working around the clock to help residents with air conditioning problems. “It’s a hard time to be without working A/C, and we are trying to get our neighbors and customers comfortable again,” Mike said.
Talent Irrigation District (TID) opened the irrigation canals late, on May 26 this year, rather than mid-march in prior years. The move to conserve water not only affects agriculture, but many residences in the Ashland, Talent and Phoenix areas. Swimming pools and lawns may be dry, but gardens providing food for families are of great concern. After a couple days of rain in early June, Talent Irrigation district shut off the canals to conserve more water on June 14th. TID reinstated service again today, June 29th, with no guarantee how long it will be in operation this year.
Mountain Lakes that supply the Talent & Medford Irrigation Districts are severely under supplied (see hydro map on this page), ranging from only 6% to 55 % full. The total water supply sits at less that 25% of combined lake capacity.
Area residents who have TID access have taken to stretching hoses to save gardens and lawns, and even giving up, letting things dry up, and hoping for a better supply of rain and snowfall in the coming seasons.