KID repairing canal breach as fast as possible

Tri-City HeraldJune 22, 2014 

— Crews are working around the clock to fix a Kennewick Irrigation District canal breach east of Kennewick that's left about 4,500 customers without water since Saturday night.

And with daytime temperatures hitting 90 on Monday, workers were scrambling.

"We need to get that water on," said Chuck Freeman, KID's manager.

Customers could have water available Wednesday or Thursday. The district will continue to post updates on its website at http://kid.org/. Affected customers are a mix of urban and rural homes and property in east Kennewick and the Finley area, Freeman said. Anyone who receives water from KID's Division 4 was affected.

The surge of water and mud damaged an alfalfa hay field, but overall property damage was light, he said. No homes were damaged, but part of East Game Farm Road needs some repairs.

Officials suspect a hole dug by a rodent undermined the integrity of the canal, which already was scheduled to be improved and lined after this irrigation season.

The district hired Ray Poland & Sons to repair the canal near East Game Farm Road and South Oak Street.

On Monday, some workers were mixing water with dirt to create the packing mud to reform the walls of the canal.

Freeman said KID crews also are working on the repair. And Benton County crews worked Monday on fixing East Game Farm Road. KID's insurance will pay for the damage to property and crops, but it doesn't cover the canal fix, Freeman said.

It's not yet known how much the work will cost. But Freeman said that KID has a risk mitigation fund created in recent years to help cover emergency repairs.

In 2009, KID had to do a special assessment to pay for the cost of repairing a canal breach, Freeman said. Since then, the district has changed the way it budgets for those issues.

"We won't be going to the ratepayers to ask for an increase," he said.

A similar canal breach happened about a mile away in 2012, Freeman said. That breach damaged a cherry orchard.

The damaged part of the canal remains on the list to be lined during the next off-season, Freeman said. Since 2007, KID has lined more than 15 miles of earthen canals. About 49 miles remain.

The lining should help prevent such leaks in the future, Freeman said. Earthen canals are being lined with a rubber lining to prevent seepage, improve water flow and lower the amount of chemicals needed to control weeds. It also makes it more difficult for animals to burrow through the canal bank.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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