Irrigation district clears snow, ready to deliver water
Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District has begun adding water to our network of canals, laterals, and pumps – and it’s a slow process, particularly this year.
Filling the canals is seemingly effortless, but behind the scenes it’s complex, and this year’s weather presented added challenges for us.
Our water couldn’t be delivered without the coordination of multiple agencies and the hard work of hundreds of employees working day and night. Each drop of irrigation water flows hundreds of miles before being delivered to our farms – with the majority of the water originating in the high mountains of the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia.
As local winter snows melt, district maintenance crews have been working hard to prepare canals for this year’s water.
Record-setting snowfall and lingering cold weather in February delayed our originally scheduled water turn on date by nearly two weeks.
The main West Canal is free of snow and ice, and all construction projects and repairs were completed, but we still have work to do in some of the smaller sub-laterals and drains. Heavy snowfall and wind buried many of our waterways with snow, and we are using heavy machinery to dig them out.
Water has been filling the district’s system since Saturday, March 23, but it can take up to a week before it reaches farms.
The district’s main West Canal begins east of Soap Lake. It takes nearly two days for water to travel from the top of the district to the bottom near Royal City.
Canals are filled slowly to avoid damaging their banks and to minimize debris buildup on control structures caused by weeds and ice. Before pumps can be turned on and side laterals filled, specific water depths need to be reached.
Some smaller maintenance activities, such as weed control, have been disrupted as we focused on our highest priority projects and fought with the weather this year. We expect to catch up on these activities once the canal water is flowing.
For the most up-to-date information on the Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District activities and in-formation, please visit our new website at www.qcbid.org.
By Craig Gyselinck, an environmental assistant manager, at Quincy – Columbia Basin Irrigation District.