Ancient Channel Provides Water for Prineville’s Future 


The City of Prineville is putting a slight twist on the old saying, “Save it for a rainy day.” Instead, it’s saving for scorching summer days with the help of an ancient channel of the Crooked River. 

After more than 15 years of research and planning, Prineville Public Works Director and City Engineer Eric Klann said the city is set to use its aquifer storage and recovery system this summer. “The system allows us to store water in the aquifer during the colder months and draw it out to meet demands during the summer months,” Klann said. While the result may seem easy to use, it took perseverance, diligence and research to discover the aquifer at the Prineville Airport. 

Without doing any homework, three wells were drilled, resulting in no water. When Klann joined the city, he worked with others to investigate and research new water sources to meet the city’s growing demand for both businesses and residents. “We had an existing seven inch well that was pumping about 200 gallons a minute, and we knew we had something interesting, as the water level didn’t draw down much during pumping and once, we shut the pump off, the water came back quickly,” he said.

A team of city and state officials used old well logs and geological strata to narrow their search for the aquifer. They looked at the chemistry of the water and the chemistry of the formations, piecing together information to find the old channel of the Crooked River. “It’s taken us 15 years of research to develop this environmentally friendly project,” Klann said. “Because the aquifer is confined, the water is going to stay right where we put it.”

Although the project took years to develop, Klann said it’s something that will serve the city’s residents and businesses for many years. Klann said the aquifer is about 450 feet deep. “The aquifer storage and recovery system are working wonderfully,” he said. “It will provide a drought and climate change resistant source of water for the next 100 years.”

The need for a new water source stems from the city’s challenge to meet summertime peak demands, which can be almost three times greater than average daily demands. Klann said the ASR system uses a well to inject water into the aquifer, where it is stored and later pumped back out for use. The water is collected during periods of cooler temperatures, higher streamflow and lower demands.

“The beauty of this water system is that it allows us to save or store water when demand is low during the winter months and meet water demands in July and August,” he said. 

Klann said the aquifer storage and recovery system is a cost-effective water management tool to allow the city to meet its growing peak day demands by taking advantage of the natural storage space found underground in geologic formations. The city paid for the new system using system development charges as well as assistance from Apple, which has two data storage centers in Prineville. 

Klann said Prineville is working to create a better tomorrow for its residents, visitors and businesses through fiscally responsible projects benefitting both the environment and the community. “The ASR project fits in well with our environmentally and fiscally responsible Crooked River Wetland Wastewater Treatment Project and our new Barnes Butte Project which provides over 600 acres of open space within our city limits,” he shared.

Klann said the climate change and the state’s current drought are indicators of why it’s important for the city to invest in water storage facilities. “The city of Prineville is taking the steps to successfully complete environmentally friendly projects,” Klann said. “The aquifer storage and recovery system is an environmentally sensitive way to meet the demands for water in our city. We can now have the ability to store more water than we may use in an entire year.”


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