Columbia Irrigation District lets water flow

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMarch 20, 2014 

Yakima River water gushed into Columbia Irrigation District's main canal as the first of four gates was lifted early Thursday.

A short distance from the Wanawish Dam and CID's headworks, the dirty water started to slow, picking up tumbleweeds and branches.

It would take about four hours for water in the main canal to reach the first spillway, a journey of more than three miles.

Like Columbia Irrigation District, most Mid-Columbia irrigation districts have started filling canal systems and getting ready to supply water to area farmers and homeowners.

All of the nearly 9,200 farms and homes that CID serves in West Richland, Richland, Kennewick and Finley will have access to irrigation water by April 15.

Overall, officials are expecting a full water year. However, some have cautioned that Yakima River water users may still find themselves short and are still encouraging irrigators to conserve water when possible.

Joel Teeley, CID's general manager and board secretary, estimates it will take seven to 10 days for the district to fill the 41 miles of canals between West Richland and Finley.

But it will take longer for the water to be clean enough for irrigation users and for the district's maintenance staff of 10 to start up all the pumps for pressurized systems, he said.

During the irrigation season, automatic actuators will raise gates when the river levels are down and lower gates when the river levels are up, Teeley said.

It's only the second irrigation season that the actuators have been in use, he said. The actuators and the gates were replaced last year as part of an $186,000 project. Until the upgrade, CID had just one working gate.

A repair job also was done on the existing concrete dam, he said.

Turn on dates for other irrigation districts are:

-- Kennewick Irrigation District: Canal filling starting April 1, first deliveries two weeks later.

-- Badger Mountain Irrigation District: Irrigation water starting March 31, should have water April 9.

-- Columbia Irrigation District: Canal filling started this week, ready to use first week of April.

-- East Columbia Basin Irrigation District: East Low Canal filling this weekend, first deliveries next week. Deliveries from the Potholes East Canal available this week.

-- Franklin County Irrigation District: Canal filling Monday, deliveries starting that week.

-- Kiona Irrigation District: Water on April 1, first deliveries that day.

-- Quincy Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Started canal filling this week, water deliveries this week.

-- Roza Irrigation District: Canal filling started this week, first deliveries this week.

-- South Columbia Basin Irrigation District: Canal filling started this week, first deliveries this week.

-- Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District: Canal filling starting this weekend, throughout the system by April 1.

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