Some Columbia Basin Project irrigators will experience limited or interrupted water service for the next week.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation started reducing water flows in the main canal Monday after a canal ditch rider spotted damage in the canal just below Pinto Dam.
"We're reducing flows in the main canal, and expect the canal to be at its lowest level by Wednesday evening," said Ephrata Field Office Manager Stephanie Utter in a news release. "While repairs are taking place, there will be some disruption in water deliveries directly from the west and east low canals later this week."
Those receiving water deliveries from the Quincy-Columbia and East Columbia irrigation districts should expect water deliveries to be reduced or interrupted through early next week, Utter said. Some of the South Columbia Basin Irrigation District will also experience reduced flows.
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The Pinto Dam is on the main canal. Water is pumped out of the Columbia River, and into Banks Lake, and then it seeds the main canal, Utter said.
During the summer, it waters about 680,000 acres, she said.
Flows were at 7,000 cubic feet per second, or cfs, before the bureau began reducing flows Monday, officials said.
Water flows in the canal must be cut so work crews can get to a collapsed concrete panel and assess the damage, according to a news release.
As of Tuesday morning, Utter said flows had been reduced to 5,000 cfs. Flows were being cut by 500 cfs until a crew could access the damaged area.
The dewatering process was still ongoing Tuesday evening, Utter said.
More information on when water levels may return to normal should be available today.
Those who receive water from the Potholes Canal will not be affected, Utter said. Franklin County irrigators should not feel an impact.
The main canal will be monitored as repairs are made and water flows are eventually restored early next week. Officials say there is no immediate threat to public safety.
Irrigators with questions should contact their water master offices.