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Fabric Canal Liner Earns High Marks with Farmers

by Matt Hall
Capital Press - December 6, 2002

TULELAKE, Calif. -- A 2001 irrigation water conservation project, rushed to completion by Tulelake Irrigation District with assistance from U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, paid off this year when water distribution was restored.

"We could see the results in areas that used to seep out into roadsides and fields," said Jerry Pyle, TID's assistant manager. "All of that seepage is gone.

"We've had testimony from the farmers telling what their irrigation is like along the canal now ... they're really pleased with it. It's giving them water on a more timely fashion, and because it stays in the canal rather than seeping out.

"You could say that it gives them more water."

The 2.3 mile length completed in 2001 was joined this November with a 1.3-mile project. Both are near Copic Bay, a farming area south of Tulelake.

"We're lining it with a Firestone product called 'Pond Guard,'" said Pyle. "It's synthetic pond lining material. There's an anchor trench on the canal bank that holds it in place."

Tulelake Irrigation District manages 242 miles of canal, 26 miles of dikes, and oversees 37 pumping stations used to reclaim water.

In 2001, TID was one of several Klamath Reclamation Project irrigation districts denied water in a drought year when the government decided limited stored water was needed as habitat for fish protected under the Endangered Species Act. BuRec put together several demonstration water conservation projects it hopes of reducing future irrigation demand.

BuRec bought the pond liner and TID carried out installation. Pyle figures cost of the lined canal at $12 a linear foot ($63,360 per mile or $1.9 million per 30 miles).

The big canals treated with liner handle 70 cubic feet per second flow volumes.

Pyle doesn't see the system as being necessary for the average farmer's field ditch.

"But there's a difference between a field ditch and an irrigation lateral. If a farmer has a pond that is losing water to seepage, that would be a great place to put this," he said.

Matt Hall, for the Capital Press
Fabric Canal Liner Earns High Marks with Farmers
Capital Press - December 6, 2002

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