What is an O&M fee? What exactly am I paying for? How is it figured?
Our five elected members of the Board of Directors oversee all of the operation and maintenance activities of the 67,266 irrigated acres in this district. These irrigated acres are assessed an Operation and Maintenance fee, or O&M fee, annually, per irrigated acre, which allows us to continue the process of preserving the complete system. At the end of each year, we propose a budget that the Board of Directors examines and approves. Once the end balance is determined, that is divided by the number of acres within our district, and the charge per acre is figured. This fee covers the cleaning of 500 miles of waterways, installing new pipelines and concrete structures, chemicals, fuel, equipment, insurance, power for pumping out of the Snake River, etc. Employee costs are a total of 30 to 50 full and part-time employees depending on the time of the season.
Water users do not pay for irrigation water.
Water allotment can and will fluctuate each year based on snowpack, runoff, reservoir storage, and weather conditions. The law articulates that all water within Oregon belongs to the people of the state (ORS 537.110) and water users only have a right to this commodity if there is a beneficial use (ORS 537.120); one example of that is defined as irrigation of crops. For the current water rights to stay valid and not be canceled or removed, irrigation water must be put to beneficial use on all acres with existing water rights within a five (5) year period, or they may be subject to forfeit (ORS 540.610).
The incurred O&M charges (ORS 545.381) for the 2023 season have been set at $75.00 per irrigable acre. The fee breakdown is as follows: $1.50 special assessment for the Malheur Siphon Improvements Project and $73.50 for the normal, annual Operation and Maintenance (O&M) fee.
For example, if you own 10 acres:
10 acres x $1.50 = $15.00 (Project Fee)
10 acres x $73.50 = $735.50 (O&M Fee)
$735.50 (O&M) + $15.00 (Project Fee) = $750.50 (Total)
IMPORTANT PLEASE READ:
In order not to incur interest charges, the balance must be paid on or before April 15th. Payments received in the mail with an April 15th postage date will be considered delinquent if received after April 15th. This fee must be paid in full before water can be delivered. A penalty of 1.33% will be assessed on the 15th of each month until the total has been received.
Avoid delay in your payment by making your payment through the Customer Portal!