HCIC holds tour of salinity project
Huntington/Cleveland Irrigation Company toured their salinity project along with invited guests from various agencies. The tour began at the Huntington North Reservoir which is part of the salinity project. Instead of building another reservoir, the company took advantage of the existing reservoir. The outlet facilities at Huntington North underwent a massive change to accomodate the pipeline out of the reservoir.
The first stop on the journey was the Snowball pond near Cleveland. Sherrel Ward acted as tour guide and gave tidbits of information as various places were passed on route to the pond. He pointed out the first fields where farming took place in Cleveland. "It will be interesting to see what happens to the marshes as the water is taken out of the canals. This part of Cleveland will be involved in Phase III of the project," said Ward.
Ward said hay in the area is behind about two weeks. Most of the farm land was developed on higher ground in the early years because the bottom lands were marshy. As the pipeline was placed through the fields in many places dirt had to be hauled in to keep the pipe in place. There was so much water as the trenches were dug that Nielson Construction had trouble keeping their equipment from sinking in places. Many of the pipes had to be held in place with pylons some 30 feet down.
Larry Perkins said in many places the pipelines have settled, breaking pipes which had to be replaced. The tour viewed the lower Elmo pond and the Snowball pond. The lower pond has a clay liner one foot thick and will store 10 acre feet of water and the larger Snowball pond has an 18 inch liner and will hold 100 acre feet of water. The ponds have been layered with native materials. There is a 42 inch line coming out of the lower pond. Perkins said they have reduced the wall thickness of the pipe which reduced the cost of the pipe. Snowball pond has an inlet and outlet structure which are designed according to dam safety regulations which includes protections against large storms and any overflows from the system.
They pointed out where the Cleveland canal runs which is tree lined with cottonwoods and various other plants. Ward said one of the downsides of the project is the trees and bushes along the canals will all die off when the water is removed from the canals. Perkins said they have money which will mitigate some of those losses although they have yet to decide how to do this. One solution on the farmside will be to plant tree rows.
Most of the canal will be retired. There will be a 30-35 percent savings on water loss through seepage, evaporation and other means. It's estimated through the Cleveland canal there is a 50-55 percent loss of water with the present system. Perkins said over the whole system the water project will save 50 percent in water loss, with these water savings, increased acreage can be put into production.
The water in the ponds is fairly clean and has screens in place to aid in settling. Before the water flows over the inlet it is settled and backs up 1,000 feet. The water is kept as clean as possible to help farmers avoid sprinkler head problems. The ponds are pressurized to avoid surge problems.
Perkins said, "Nielson's Construction has done an excellent job on this pond. They have done outstanding work as the contractor on this project."
The Snowball pond has just started filling and Ward said he has been watering out of this pond and only experienced two plugged nozzles so far. According to dam safety regulations the pond can only be brought up one foot each day. The operating level will be three feet below the riprap.
Chris Thomsen from JUB Engineering said the liner in Snowball pond is 18 inches thick and the soil has been sampled and the seepage will be only a Â½ inch per year. It's very important to get the soils compacted correctly. Water will be kept in the pond year round to keep the liner from drying out and possibly cracking.
Another aspect of the salinity project which will have a tremendous water savings will be in stock watering for year round consumption. The canals won't have to be battled with to keep from freezing and each farmer will have a stock watering one inch line coming to their farm. At the diversion structure above Snowball pond the water will be taken out of the canal and travel in a 60 inch pipe to the pond. The elevation of the spillway of the Snowball pond is six inches higher than the spillway. This was implemented so when the pond is full it won't lose any water to wave action.
Ward explained to tour goers where the water starts into the Cleveland Canal right below Marshalls in Huntington Canyon. It diverts a portion of the Huntington River and this is the water which is carried by canal all the way to the end of the line in Miller Creek. This water delivery system hasn't changed much since pioneer times.
The Phase II laying of pipe is just beginning. Some farms which are higher in elevation than these first ponds will have to wait for the upper pond to be completed.
Carl Fillmore explained how so much water seepage occurs out of the canal system. The shale material is very fractured and porous allowing water to pass out very easily and travel into the fields to bring up the salt (alkali-Emery County snow). This salinity project will go a long way towards helping stop the salt from getting into the local rivers and carrying on down to the Colorado River. The reduction of salt from the Colorado River drainage is the reason the monies became available to go forth with the HCIC project. It's estimated that 70,000 tons of salt will be removed with the completion of this project. Project wide an estimated 350-400 miles of canal will be eliminated.
Ward said the stock holders of Huntington/Cleveland irrigation have made many sacrifices to bring this project along, but in looking back it isn't any more than the pioneer forefathers did to bring their farms under cultivation.
Perkins said originally the irrigated acreage was 16,500 acres and in working with the state engineers office the acreage which can be brought under irrigation is now at 21,000 acres. "How efficient farmers are will determine how much will actually be irrigated. This is a large project and we have had to lay a lot of pipe through areas that aren't farmed. The farms are scattered. It's a costly project but will be a huge benefit to this valley. Similar ground in Ferron has doubled their production. It's made a huge difference." said Perkins.
Ward explained before the power plants came in the acreage irrigated was 32,000 acres. In selling water shares to the power plants they had to retire acreage. With this new project some of that retired acreage can be brought into use again. It is also hoped that additional production on lands might lead to commercial raising of alfalfa to sell to other areas of the country and even over seas.
Roger Barton, a leader in the Ferron project said, last year some Ferron producers sold hay all around the country and as far away as Korea and Japan. They would like to get together and market the crop to make agriculture more attractive to the younger generation.
Ward said 14,000 acre feet of water comes into the Huntington drainage from Joe's Valley Reservoir. The water travels through the CC