By CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Two Grant County irrigation districts have been awarded $600,000 in federal grants to replace and improve pipelines and feeder canals and reduce water loss.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded $300,000 each to both the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District and the Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District as part of the $29.1 million WaterSMART grants “to help communities save water.”
“These water and energy efficiency grants help increase hydropower production and contribute to water supply reliability in the western United States,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “WaterSMART is an opportunity for communities to use water more effectively and reduce risk for future water conflict.”
For the Quincy district, the grant will help cover part of the $832,000 cost of lining 8,750 feet of the W61F canal with concrete and plastic liner to save an estimated 1,657 acre-feet per year.
“There are a number of smaller lateral (canals) that seep, so lining it with concrete and covering it is a continuation of a project we’ve been working on,” said Roger Sonnichsen, acting secretary and manager of the Quincy district.
Sonnichsen said the canal liner is a high-tech, woven plastic that will make the current earthen canal “impervious” to seepage, especially at higher elevations along Frenchman Hills.
“We anticipate starting this fall, and should finish before the irrigation season starts in 2020, around mid-March sometime,” he said said.
For the East Columbia Irrigation District, the grant will help pay to replace 17,100 feet of earthen canals with PVC pipes to address seepage and evaporation losses. The total project is set to cost nearly $680,000 and should result in an annual water savings of around 880 acre-feet.
The WaterSMART grants were awarded to 45 in 13 states, mostly in the Western United States, and through these grants, the Bureau of Reclamation “works cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply reliability through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts,” according to a bureau press release.