A local irrigators' Conservation Committee is in the final stages of preparing four grant applications which, if all are completely funded, would pay 100 percent of the cost for piping most of the main irrigation ditches in the Orchard City Irrigation District, Fogg, Butte, and Alfalfa systems.
The Conservation Committee was established about two years ago by the Orchard City Irrigation District to look into the idea of raising the spillway at Fruitgrowers Reservoir for increased water storage.
That idea proved unfeasible.
The committee has gone on to look at piping as another way of increasing water yield in Surface Creek Valley irrigation systems. The members of the committee are OCID board member Jan Gage, Butte Ditch board member Bert Sibley, and Delta County Economic Development vice president Tom Huerkamp.
The committee hosted a meeting at Orchard City Town Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 30. About 20 of the valley's largest irrigators attended the session to hear a broad outline of the plan. Also present was John Harward of Harward Irrigation Systems of Springville, Utah, Harward's company was chosen by the Conservation Committee to do the installation work if grant funds are awarded for the projects.
Harward said that his company is doing a project on the Stewart Ditch at Paonia now, and has completed another on Grand View Mesa.
According to committee member Gage, the grant application being prepared will be for four separate projects each qualified for up to $6 million in funding. The grant applications have to be submitted to the Bureau of Reclamation by Nov. 16, Gage said. BuRec officials have toured the proposed project area and will make announcement of grant awards in January.
Money to fund the grants is being provided by the bureau's salinity program. The grants, if awarded, would cover 100 percent of the projects' costs. Any one, or any combination of the four grants may win approval. It is possible that none will win BuRec approval.
Gage said the Conservation Committee had already received a grant for $18,000 for preliminary study of the project and preparation of the grant applications.
According to John Harward, project proposals will be evaluated for funding on the basis of the amount of salt load they can remove from the Colorado River at the most efficient "cost per ton" value. The grant applications are competitive. An announcement of award could come as early as mid January. A contract for the actual work would be signed within a few months after that.
Committee members Sibley and Gage said the big benefit from the project would be to reduce the amount of water loss, or "shrink," that valley irrigators experience as their water is delivered downstream through dirt ditches and natural water courses.
Harward and three of his company associates discussed some specifics of the project design with the irrigators at the Orchard City meeting last week.
Harward noted that a design utilizing sprinklers is by far the most efficient for saving water. In some places in the valley, there is ample head pressure for sprinkler irrigation systems.
But, handling tail water runoff that comes off irrigated fields would be a problem for a closed, pressurized system, irrigators pointed out.
A decision was made that if the projects get grant funding, work will proceed on a piped system running from diversion box to diversion box designed to accommodate tail water runoff. The pipe will be pressure rated in order to allow for possible use of sprinklers where feasible in the future, the group decided.
The four irrigation systems each pose some unique problems. The Alfalfa is divided into three sections with only the upper two qualifying for piping under the program requirements. Also, where the Alfalfa Ditch runs through the Cedaredge golf course and housing development and is known as Deer Creek, homeowners and their properties will be involved if it is piped or lined.
Harward speculated that piping the ditch underneath the foot path along Surface Creek might be a possibility. But several technical problems would have to be overcome with that option also, he said.
Irrigators at the meeting discussed the issue of sizing pipe on a portion of the Butte system that has a 48 cfs, but which carries much less than that most of the year. The price of pipe increases rapidly with its diameter. Irrigators felt the pipe should be sized to flow the full decree rather than risk having part of the decree declared "abandoned" by the state if a smaller diameter pipe is used.
Portions of the Fogg Ditch lend themselves to a pressurized system. But the need to deal with irrigation tail water prompted irrigators to opt for a "box-to-box" piped system.blog comments powered by Disqus