Jay Chamberlin

Project Manager
Owyhee Irrigation District

Jay S. Chamberlin was born in Ontario, Oregon, and grew up attending school in the Nyssa School District. Once he graduated, he attended Treasure Valley Community College. From 1978-1985 he was employed with the Owyhee Irrigation District. He held various jobs, including maintenance, equipment operations, and power and pumping plant repairs.

Several years later, an opportunity took Jay and his family to Hamilton, Montana, where he managed the Bitter Root Irrigation District from 1985-1991. As General Manager, he oversaw all aspects; budget, staff, water management, storage, releases, delivery of irrigation systems, canals, laterals, pressurized pipeline systems, and dam safety. Dam safety issues became a significant concern at that time for the Como Dam. Staff worked closely with the Bureau of Reclamation to make the needed repairs. Jay also attended training on various topics in Denver, Colorado, at the Bureau of Reclamation Engineering Center.

In 1991 Jay moved to Dillon, Montana to manage the East Bench Unit Irrigation District located in southwest Montana, in the Missouri River Basin. As General Manager, he was responsible for all operations, irrigation, drainage, wasteways, flood control of a high hazard dam, and working with Army Corps. Of Engineering in dam operation as well as the Bureau of Reclamation. He also participated in training in St. Louis, Missouri, to learn about hydroelectric controls. During this time, Jay was elected as the president of the Montana Water Resource Association. He also served as a board member of the Upper Missouri Water Association, which included Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Jay was also asked by the governor, Mark Rosco, to draft the state’s first water plan. Jay has traveled to Washington DC numerous times to testify before the Natural Resource Committee on water, power, and the effort to create more wilderness in the state that jeopardized agricultural water rights and an engaged in a state groundwater study taking two years and $250,000 in funding.

Jay returned to Eastern Oregon in 2001, where he now manages the Owyhee Irrigation District, which is the largest single district in the state. Serving as General Manager, he oversees more than 67,000 acres, 500 miles of water delivery system, and over 100 miles of open and closed drains. Jay also manages three hydro plants generating 15 megawatts. Jay is currently serving on the National Water Resources Association Board of Directors of Oregon and a board member for the Oregon Water Resources Congress. He was also the past president of the Oregon Water Resource Congress. During his presidency, he served on the Oregon Water Resources Department committee to help create Oregon’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Currently, Jay is involved in a complete inventory and analysis of the Owyhee Project, reviewing water conservation, delivery systems, micro-irrigation efforts, groundwater and drainage controls, water quality efforts, and returning flows to natural river systems.

Evaluation Panel