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Front Page » May 13, 2008 » Local News » It works! Irrigation system comes online
Published 3,209 days ago

It works! Irrigation system comes online

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Phase I of the Huntington/Cleveland Irrigation project off and sprinkling

Ted Curtis puts the final clamp on the wheel line as Phase I of the Huntington/Cleveland Salinity project starts sprinkling.

It was a historic week for the Huntington/Cleveland Irrigation Company as the first sprinklers came on and began watering the fields in Lawrence.

Wade Nielson was the first farmer to bring his sprinklers on line followed by Ted Curtis. The water is there and the onfarm work just needs to be completed so each farmer can come on line. Many irrigation company members were on hand to watch the sprinklers commence to spray. Larry Perkins from JUB Engineering in Orem has been instrumental in the design of the project. Perkins said everyone on the Huntington side can connect right now if they are ready and everyone on the Elmo side will be able to connect within a week and a half.

This will be the first year with the sprinklers, but during the project farmers could still flood irrigate their land.

County Economic Development Director, Mike McCandless said, "The development of the irrigation project on the north end of the county is perhaps one of the most important infrastructure projects in the history of the county. In addition to the significant amounts of construction money that is being spent, the long term effects will be evident for decades. Water management and conservation are issues that will only become more important in the future. This positions Emery County at the forefront of these issues."

Perkins said, "We are observing the first signs of success for the new Huntington Cleveland Pressure Irrigation Project. It wasn't a great show, but we are very excited to see the first sprinklers actually spraying water on our fields. By the end of the day on May 5 we had three long wheel lines working very well - just as planned for. It is very exciting for the farmers to find out that, after all the challenges and waiting, the system really is going to work. We are going to try and have all the producers in the Buffalo area on line in the next week or so and be able to demonstrate what the system will look like when a large area of farmland is being irrigated at the same time."

Curtis one of the farmers who has anxiously awaited the sprinklers said, "I feel good about it. As I was waiting for the water to come up I was thinking I wish Richard Snowball was here to see it. This was Richard's dream. There have been a lot of people who have done a lot of work on this. It's been a lot of hard work and there have been a lot of big obstacles to overcome and there is still a lot ahead of us. The farmers are coming on sometimes three or four a day. Sometimes more than that. I've never done this before, (operating sprinklers) so this is all new to me. But, I've had mine running non-stop since they came up. I've had no trouble with them. There's been a long line of people working on this. Dennis Ward was instrumental in helping this project. Things are happening now and will continue to happen until it's done," said Curtis.

The $47.8 million salinity project was in the funding process for several years and this is a big step for the project to actually begin watering by sprinkler.

At a recent Huntington/Cleveland membership meeting Perkins gave an update on the project:

"We've been slow in starting this salinity project and some have been hurt by that. I know it has cost some of you. It has become apparent due to the size of this project that many state and federal people have become involved and are now making decisions," Perkins said.

"The project has slowed with all the policies and procedures now in place. This project has changed projects that will take place in the future. As for the local people in the agencies involved, they have been good all along. But, the other agencies have put a slow down on some things such as funding.

"As for PacifiCorp, from the start they have been a great supporter of this project. They have helped a lot. The board of HCIC have handled this project with intelligence and good judgment. They have made some difficult decisions," added Perkins.

The sprinklers gather pressure and begin spraying on the Ted Curtis farm on Buffalo Bench in Lawrence.

Perkins stated this power point presentation would answer many of the questions the members of HCIC have. He began with a review of the project. The project consists of three ponds. The Upper pond and Snowball pond are in the construction phase. Huntington North reservoir is the third body of water in the project.

The Huntington pond and the lower Elmo pond, which will also undergo construction, will act as the pressure stabilization outlets for the new sprinkling system. There will be pipelines constructed which will run from all ponds to the individual connections and meters at the farms in the system.

The construction phases of this project will be as follows: phase 1-areas north, south and east of Elmo; areas southeast of Huntington; Lawrence and Buffalo areas; Snowball pond; and lower Elmo pressure regulating station. Phase 2-area west of Elmo; area north of Cleveland; transmission pipeline to Upper pond; and Upper pond. Phase 3 will consist of construction of the balance of the main feeder lines, the lines that will deliver water to the areas in phase 4 as they are funded, and the Huntington pressure regulation station. Phase 4 will be the balance of the delivery pipelines to the areas north of Huntington, the Cleveland area, and the area south and west of Huntington.

The main feeder lines on Phase I are complete and the delivery lines to all farms with sprinkling systems in place are scheduled to be completed by May. The balance of phase 1 will be completed as funding approval comes in from the NRCS.

The total number of water users involved with phase 1 is 125. Those who have applied for and received NRCS contracts number 92. That leaves 33 remaining water users in phase 1.

Work on phase 2 of the project has begun with construction on the main feeder line progressing. The engineers are investigating property for the Upper pond. Design for that pond will begin when a site is selected. Phase 2 is scheduled to be complete and serve all farms with sprinkling systems in place by May of 2009. The construction of phases 3 and 4 will be completed as funding is approved.

One of the most asked questions is "Will I have water for my sprinkler system this summer? Delivery lines are expected to be completed to all farms with sprinkling systems in place by May. The construction company, Nielson Construction, has been adding extra crews and are working as weather permits to meet the May date.

Will there be enough money to finish the project or will we have to borrow? If NRCS funding continues the way it is with phase 1, there will be sufficient funding to complete the project. Perkins said borrowing money will only be necessary if the decision is made to construct a large reservoir at the Johnny Jensen site.

What if I do not connect now? A stub out valve will be provided for shareholders who have no NRCS contract and no sprinkling system. Water will be delivered in the canal until they apply and get NRCS funding. The meter and delivery lines to the farm must then be included by the applicant for NRCS funding.

What if I don't plan to ever connect? If a shareholder says he is never going to sprinkle, HCIC will arrange delivery of his water for flood irrigation. Water will be delivered at a sprinkler system rate of flow. If he decides to sprinkle, he will pay the 25 percent NRCS match and he will reimburse HCIC for the additional money that was paid to provide for flood irrigation out of the pressure system.

When will the canals be taken out of service? It depends on the water users. Everyone served by a particular canal must be connected to the pressure system before water can be taken out of that section of canal. The engineers best guess is: North ditch below Huntington North reservoir-spring 2009; Cleveland canal below Elmo City pond-spring 2010; Huntington canal below Lawrence South pond-too soon to tell; laterals and ditches-waters users on that lateral or ditch will decide. There are canals that will remain in service during the irrigation season. These are only estimates, not exact dates.

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