An unusually cold and snowy winter has left Mid-Columbia irrigation districts hustling to finish maintenance and other projects and doing more repairs than usual before starting to deliver water.
Several districts have announced that water delivery could start a little later than usual this year. But, fortunately, the wet weather is offsetting the immediate need for water.
The Kennewick Irrigation District planned to line 3.8 miles of irrigation canal, but midweek was still working on the last quarter mile.
“It really was the record-setting snows,” said Jason McShane, KID engineering and operations manager.
The district built contingency time into its winter schedule, but the worst-case scenario it planned for was three weeks short of the actual number of snowy and rainy days.
A plastic lining used in the canals must be fused together when the plastic is dry, so even recent warmer — but still rainy — days have been a challenge. Lining canals reduces the risk of canal breaks, and the federal government contributes funds for the work because lining increases water efficiency.
People can expect to have water delivery in the first three weeks of April.
Jason McShane, Kennewick Irrigation District engineering and operations manager
KID officials have been planning tasks day by day, after considering wind, rain and snow conditions.
During the bad weather crews have been assigned to do other work, often trimming trees. There have been enough bad weather days that crews worked through this year’s winter weather plan and started the work for next year, McShane said.
Crews will be working extra shifts to get the canal lining completed and start delivering water.
KID is getting a jump on work by using some water held over from the last irrigation for early system testing starting Monday, rather than waiting until the current season’s water rights kick in on April 1.
Water will be delivered starting April 1 to most of Kennewick. Work continues to line a section of the Badger East Canal that serves Richland and West Richland, and water delivery there is expected to start April 6. About two weeks is needed for water to reach all customers.
“People can expect to have water delivery in the first three weeks of April,” McShane said.
The start date was pushed back from March 15th due to delayed crop development and frozen ground in the upper portion of the district, which has delayed our ability to prep the canals for water.
Roza Irrigation District
Residents may see water turned off and on initially as tests are performed and any problems repaired.
As water delivery begins, KID will keep its online water status map updated at kid.org — click on the map label on the green bar — and customers can check for the latest information about water delivery to their neighborhood.
Elsewhere, the Roza Irrigation District in Sunnyside announced it is postponing the planned start of water delivery by 10 days due to delayed crop development and frozen ground in part of the district, which delayed work to prep the canals for water.
The South Columbia Basin Irrigation District in Pasco revised its water turn-on dates, saying it needed to repair damage to canals due to runoff. The East Columbia Basin Irrigation District in Othello made a similar announcement, saying its delay was based on weather and runoff-related damage.
▪ Badger Mountain Irrigation District will start delivery March 27, with water to all customers expected April 7.
▪ Benton Irrigation District expects to be up to full pressure April 1.
▪ Columbia Irrigation District will start to flush out and fill canals with irrigation water Monday. Any customer who does not have water by April 15 should call the district.
▪ East Columbia Basin Irrigation District now plans to begin filling the East Low Canal March 24, with deliveries to begin March 30. The Potholes East Canal will begin filling on March 13, with deliveries expected around March 23. Deliveries also will be based on demand in individual lateral systems.
▪ Franklin County Irrigation district plans to start filling canals between March 27 and April 3, depending on progress on maintenance work.
▪ Kiona Irrigation District will start water delivery April 14.
▪ The Quincy-Columbia Irrigation District date to start filling canals has been revised to March 24, with priming on smaller canals and laterals through the first week of April.
▪ Roza Irrigation District will begin water diversion March 25, with deliveries beginning a few days later.
▪ The South Columbia Basin Irrigation District’s season will begin on March 29 to the Mattawa area and the Potholes area of Franklin County, with deliveries in individual lateral systems dependent on demand. Delivery to the Block 18 East Low Canal system should begin March 30.
▪ Sunnyside Irrigation District’s water season begins April 3.