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Canal Company gets Pipeline Project Funds

by Mike Griffel, Freelance Writer
Capital Press, September 1, 2006

Construction to begin next year east of Ashton

The Marysville Canal Company has received over a half million dollars in federal money for a gravity pipeline project east of Ashton, Idaho. Upon completion, The Marysville Canal North Lateral Project will replace over 15 miles of inefficient irrigation ditches impacting over 5,000 acres of cropland and result in substantial water and power savings.

Ken Beckmann, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, explained the project could be completed as early as 2008. NRCS is assisting the company because it meets the agency's mission. "This project has huge conservation benefits," he said.

According to Beckmann, the venture will cost an estimated $2.7 million. In an effort to cut the cost for landowners and farmers, the company has applied for $1.35 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. He said about $570,000 has already been earmarked for the project, and he is optimistic the remaining funds will come through in the 2007 EQIP funding cycle.

"They competed on a national scale and received this funding to get started," he said.

Participating landowners and farmers will shoulder the remaining $1.35 million cost. Beckmann said that amount equates to about $263 per acre.

Beckmann explained the project will replace about 15 miles of the existing canal network with buried PVC pipe. Much of the system will be pressurized, eliminating the need for most of the electrically-powered pumps scattered across the countryside. In fact, he projects it will eliminate 1,200 horsepower of the 1,500 horsepower needed to pump water during the irrigation season.

Beckmann said replacing the inefficient canal network will also save about one-third of the total water used during the irrigation season, which amounts to an average of 6,600 acre feet each year.

Jack Marotz is a retired farmer and shareholder in the canal company. He volunteered to gather information for the project and present it to the shareholders in an effort to build support. His efforts paid off, as 41 of 42 landowners have already signed agreements to participate and accept their share of the cost.

Marotz explained the company chose the north lateral section because the area's topography makes it the most inexpensive section to convert to a pipeline. He said it would cost about $20 million to convert the remaining canal system, a price tag the company can't currently afford.

Marotz said the company is looking at loan options and other grants to spread the cost over 20 to 30 years, which could run landowners about $20 to $30 per acre each year. He said much of that will be offset by electricity savings. "We're going after any kind of money we can find," he said. This fall, as area farmers complete harvest operations, Beckmann said NRCS will conduct an environmental assessment and begin surveying the projected course of the pipeline. He said construction will begin during the fall of 2007 and could be completed by 2008.

"It's a natural location for a pipeline," Beckmann said. "We are excited to be able to put something like this on the ground."

Related Pages:
Addressing Irrigators' Concerns, Public Testimony at Pasco WA by

Mike Griffel, Freelance Writer
Canal Company gets Pipeline Project Funds
Capital Press, September 8, 2006

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