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click to enlarge @ashleyjean brings us with the help of Bend Police Department and Fire and Rescue, Avryn had the coolest and safest first day of school! Tag @sourceweekly. - SUBMITTED
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  • @ashleyjean brings us with the help of Bend Police Department and Fire and Rescue, Avryn had the coolest and safest first day of school! Tag @sourceweekly.

In Response to, "Drying Up?" on 8/23

I appreciate the work your reporter put into the story, and I appreciate the role of the media of raising issue. However, I think the claim by the well owner is speculative. One of the concerns I have is that unless the reader pays close attention and gets past the first few paragraphs of the article, the implication is that piping is indeed the cause of the individual's well going dry.

Central Oregon hydrogeology is extremely complex. The only way one can say with certainty that any particular drop of water ends up anywhere is to follow that drop with a tracer of some sort. Otherwise, we have to depend on modeling which has to make assumptions and cannot offer absolute certainty. So, I think the best anyone can safely do is make an educated guess about where the water feeding any specific individual well is coming from. (I will note here that someone in a different irrigation district told me that his well level increased once ditches were piped. Who knows what the real cause and effect was; in this case the person was happy with the situation.)

There are many other variables that can contribute to a well level dropping—other neighbors' using more water, for example, can draw down the cone of depression for nearby wells. Natural fluctuations can take years to manifest themselves in test and private wells as water moves through the system. And we are now compounding that approximately decadal cycle with climate change and its impacts to Central Oregon's hydrology. (Scientists from the USGS and Bureau of Reclamation have been working on climate change models for years as part of the Upper Deschutes River Basin Study. They are still uncertain about the impacts at higher elevations because it's so complex and decided to drop it from the final analysis for the Basin Study.)

The individual property owner in this case speculated as to why her well went dry. I am not suggesting that she doesn't have a real problem. (I think she took the right step by hooking up to Avion.) In the end, the questions at hand for us as a community are far bigger than why one individual's well dried up, or why another person saw an increase in his well level. It serves no good to point fingers based on speculation. If we're going to solve problems, we must be forward-thinking and solution-oriented. We must work together for the common good if we want fish, families, and farms to all thrive.

—Gail Snyder

Gail, thanks for your input on this. Come on in for your gift card to Palate!

—Nicole Vulcan, Editor

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