VOLUME 10 ISSUE 2 WASHINGTON STATE EDITION
PHIL RIGDON COOPERATING TO RESTORE THE YAKIMA BASIN
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CONTENTS FEBRUARY 2019 Volume 10, Issue 2
Irrigation Leader is published 10 times a year with combined issues for July/August and November/December by
STAFF: Kris Polly, Editor-in-Chief Joshua Dill, Managing Editor Tyler Young, Writer Nicole E. Venable, Graphic Designer Shelby LaVigna, Web/Graphic Designer SUBMISSIONS: Irrigation Leader welcomes manuscript, photography, and art submissions. However, the right to edit or deny publishing submissions is reserved. Submissions are returned only upon request. For more information, please contact our office at (202) 698-0690 or Irrigation.Leader@waterstrategies.com.
Cooperating to Restore the Yakima Basin
Washington State Edition 5 Leading Cooperation in the Yakima Basin By Kris Polly 8 Cooperating to Restore the Yakima Basin: An Interview With Phil Rigdon
30 Providing Compliance for the Platte River Basin BUSINESS LEADER 34 Restoring Concrete Canals and Infrastructure 42 Riverscreen’s Versatile Floating Pump
24 Maintaining Century-Old Infrastructure in Montana
CIRCULATION: Irrigation Leader is distributed to irrigation district managers and boards of directors in the 17 western states, Bureau of Reclamation officials, members of Congress and committee staff, and advertising sponsors. For address corrections or additions, please contact our managing editor, Joshua Dill, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2018 Water Strategies LLC. Irrigation Leader relies on the excellent contributions of a variety of natural resources professionals who provide content for the magazine. However, the views and opinions expressed by these contributors are solely those of the original contributor and do not necessarily represent or reflect the policies or positions of Irrigation Leader magazine, its editors, or Water Strategies LLC. The acceptance and use of advertisements in Irrigation Leader do not constitute a representation or warranty by Water Strategies LLC or Irrigation Leader magazine regarding the products, services, claims, or companies advertised. /IrrigationLeader
Coming soon in Irrigation Leader: March: Advances in Pivot Technology April: Public Outreach Do you have a story idea for an upcoming issue? Contact our editor-in-chief, Kris Polly, at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.
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COVER PHOTO: Phil Rigdon. Photo courtesy of the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources.
PHOTO COURTESY OFYAKAMA NATION DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
14 Jason Phillips of Friant Water Authority: Maintaining Crucial Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley
27 Worthington’s Co-owner Jeff Sanger Retires
ADVERTISING: Irrigation Leader accepts one-quarter, half-page, and full-page ads. For more information on rates and placement, please contact Kris Polly at (703) 517-3962 or Irrigation.Leader@waterstrategies.com.
Leading Cooperation in the Yakima Basin By Kris Polly
hil Rigdon is the superintendent of the Yakama Nation’s Department of Natural Resources, which employs over 500 people and works on fisheries, water, forestry, and environmental protection. Under Mr. Rigdon’s direction, the department has been undertaking tributary supplement and aquifer recharge projects in the Yakima basin in order to serve the Nation’s out-ofstream needs, benefit agriculture, and restore native salmon to vast areas of Washington State. Mr. Rigdon has also been pivotal in cooperating with neighboring irrigation districts to pursue shared goals. We discuss all this and more in this month’s Irrigation Leader cover story. In this month’s issue, we also speak with a number of executives, professionals, inventors, and implementers who are working to face our nation’s infrastructure challenges. Friant Water Authority, which delivers over a million acre-feet of surface water annually to water users in the Central Valley of California, is facing a major issue of ground subsidence. In our cover story, Friant CEO Jason Phillips talks about the challenges of raising hundreds of million dollars for federally owned infrastructure repairs. We also speak with Walter Winder of Hydro Consulting, which produces AquaLastic, an affordable and highly effective elastomeric product used to repair cracked concrete conveyance structures—and keep them repaired for the long haul. Looking to Montana’s Hi-Line, we speak with Jennifer Patrick of the Milk River Joint Board of Control. The Joint Board operates infrastructure that dates back to the early
20th century, and now demands repairs that are daunting in their scale and potential cost. Riverscreen has created an innovative floating pump screen that can pull anywhere between 20 and 2,000 gallons a minute from rivers, lakes, streams, or livestock lagoons, making it a potential addition to an individual irrigator or irrigation district’s infrastructure. We also talk to Kevin Werbylo of the Headwaters Corporation, the entity that implements the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program. Headwaters is using a mix of new and existing infrastructure to provide endangered species law compliance and water use mitigation for water users in the Platte River basin. Finally, we salute a longtime colleague—Jeff Sanger of Worthington is retiring after 30 years in the power industry. It has been a pleasure to work with Jeff, and we wish him well. Infrastructure maintenance is a challenge for everyone in the irrigation industry. We hope that the stories of these hardworking men and women are an inspiration to you as you read this month’s issue of Irrigation Leader. IL Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Irrigation Leader magazine and president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@waterstrategies.com.
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Cooperating to Restore the Yakima Basin: An interview with Phil Rigdon
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In this interview with Irrigation Leader Editor-in-Chief Kris Polly, Mr. Rigdon discusses the Yakama Nation’s natural resources management work, its projects to restore local waterways and replenish local aquifers, and his experience partnering with irrigation districts in the region.
Kris Polly: Please tell us about your background. Phil Rigdon: I’m an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. I grew up on the reservation. My background is in forestry: I have a bachelor of science in forest management from the University of Washington and a master of forestry from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 2005, I came in out of the woods, where I was the fuels manager, and took charge of the Department of Natural
PHOTOS COURTESY OF YAKAMA NATION'S DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
hil Rigdon has over two decades of experience in the Yakama Nation's Department of Natural Resources. and today is the department’s superintendent. He has been involved in numerous regional and intertribal initiatives, including the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, the Yakima River Basin Watershed Enhancement Project Workgroup and Conservation Advisory Group, the Washington State Columbia River Policy Advisory Group, the Intertribal Timber Council, and the Hanford Natural Resource Trustee Council. In recognition of his commitment to cooperation in managing the water resources of the Yakima basin, Mr. Rigdon was the 2018 recipient of the Washington State Water Resources Association’s (WSWR A) Water Resources Leadership Award for excellence in water resources management.
Resources for the Yakama Nation. My current position is superintendent of the Department of Natural Resources. The department encompasses 17 different programs that cover fisheries, water, forestry, and environmental protection, among other areas.
Kris Polly: How many people are associated with your department? Phil Rigdon: During the busy time of the year, the Department of Natural Resources can have more than 500 employees. Right now, our Fisheries Program covers an enormous area. We work on fish habitat in many different watersheds and run hatchery facilities, which we call supplementation facilities. We’ll have 230–240 people working in Fisheries throughout the year—some part time or furloughed, others all year round. The tribe has been working on restoring fisheries in an area that encompasses our treaty area and our usual and accustomed fishing areas and goes all the way to the ocean—covering more than one-third of Washington State in total. Among other programs, our water program has 10 people and our wildlife program has close to 40. We’re one of the largest timber tribes in the country, with around 50 people working in forestry year round. Forestry will grow in staff during the summer, when we’re doing precommercial thinning, planting, and other active forestmanagement activities. Kris Polly: I wasn’t aware of the scale of your department. That is a tremendous amount of responsibility. Phil Rigdon: I am proud of the tribe and the work we do, but it is a crazy job at times, I will say that. Kris Polly: Tell us about the department’s top issues and goals. Phil Rigdon: There are a lot of things that are important to us, but water is probably the most critical. It supports our fisheries and the agriculture on the reservation. It is also important to our people’s culture. Historically, we have identified problems but not solved them. Those problems are real. How do we ensure that there is enough water for a robust salmon run and for the important agricultural economy of the Yakima Valley and the economy of our people, too? That is a critical part of what I work on. Kris Polly: Tell us about your experience cooperating with local irrigation districts. Phil Rigdon: When I came out of the woods, I was pretty naïve about water. I had a staff person named Tom Ring who helped explain a lot of the Yakama Nation water
issues to me. I had my armchair beliefs about what our water rights were, but the truth was less simple and more demanding. An example was a proposal for a reservoir east of the city of Yakima. Both the Yakama Nation and Roza Irrigation District had concerns about moving forward with the project. Ron Van Gundy was part of the team for Roza Irrigation District. Historically, the tribe and the irrigation district did not get along. Most of the time it was our attorneys who spoke, and it never turned out well. But Ron and I were able to start a dialogue. After these initial conversations, the Yakama Nation and the Roza Irrigation District signed a joint letter saying that we wanted to go in a different direction. We decided on seven common principles: looking at new water storage, ensuring fish passage at the six reservoirs in the basin, enhancing fish habitat, modifying existing structures and operations, improving groundwater storage, moving toward the market-based reallocation of water, and enhancing water conservation. This eventually developed into the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. Building trust and friendship with a key person can help break down barriers. My friendship with Ron was a key element in why I got the WSWRA Water Resources Leadership Award. We were open enough to understand each other and what the other person needed to satisfy his community. We are now achieving things that I never thought we could, and I’m very proud of that. Ron passed away a couple of summers ago, and I was asked to speak at his services. I got up there and said, “If you told me when I had started this job that I would be here, I would never have believed you.” There’s going to be salmon in the Yakima basin forever because Ron stepped forward and we became friends. And there are going to be apples and cherries in this valley because I stepped forward and our friendship brought us there. I really do believe that. There are a lot of brilliant people in this basin. Once we start really talking, things can get solved in ways that are pretty cool, whether it’s the pump station at Kachess or the project at Cle Elum Dam where a 100foot hole has been dug into the dam for fish passage. It’s awesome to watch these things become reality. IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
Sockeye salmon near Cle Elum, Washington.
Landscape near Teanaway, Washington.
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Fish habitat work on the Yakama reservation.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF YAKAMA NATION'S DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES.
Ron Van Gundy and Phil Rigdon.
Kris Polly: Tell us about the Bateman Island project. Phil Rigdon: Back in 1939, someone built a causeway across the Columbia River to Bateman Island, which was farmed at one point. No one knows who built the causeway. There are actually some important cultural resources on the island that our people want protected; we’ve had conversations about that with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The causeway stopped the flow of the Yakima River, which had flowed around the southern part of the island into the Columbia River. That creates a thermal barrier on the lower reaches of the Yakima River. Warm-water fish hide out in this warm area and pick off all the salmon that we’re trying to get out into the ocean. What we’re hoping to do is to find a way to remove the causeway or at least return flow to that part of the river. That would have an enormous effect on the flow of warm water at that lower reach and allow the river to be a bit more natural. We hope it will create cold water refugia there for salmon. Kris Polly: Do you have a particular fix in mind, or are you studying the issue right now? Phil Rigdon: We’re working with the Army Corps, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kennewick Irrigation District, the Yakama Nation, and the Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board. We joke that a couple sticks of dynamite could solve the problem, but it’s never that simple. We want to be respectful. There is now a marina downstream, so we need to make sure that we don’t harm the boats. Kris Polly: Please tell us about your tributary supplemental program. Phil Rigdon: The Yakama Nation supported Kittitas Reclamation District’s (KRD) tributary-flow supplementation/restoration program. It is an excellent alternative to traditional methods of helping streams during drought and low-water years. The program uses KRD’s existing infrastructure, which crosses key upperbasin tributaries, to carry water to the key streams during low-water periods. The water is either allocated through water conservation projects or borrowed through wheeling arrangements with downstream water users. This effort allows KRD to deliver water to streams that would otherwise be flow limited during droughts and during low-flow periods that occur almost every year due to overallocated and low water supplies. To make this possible, KRD is completing a canallining project that will provide conserved water to boost instream flows not only in drought years, but every year. It’s a pretty cool thing. We’ve been working on recovering salmon in these areas for a long time. By using well water and using space inside the irrigation district’s channels
to move water to some of the tributaries in the upper Yakima around Ellensburg, which had previously been drying up, we can keep the aquifers charged and maintain enough surface water to allow salmon and other aquatic life to use all reaches of these creeks and streams. During the drought in 2015, when everything was drying up, a bunch of the creeks that we expected to go dry had water in them due to our efforts. That will benefit salmon enormously. It’s exciting to see a solution; in this case, the solution essentially came from the irrigation district. They were thinking about what was necessary for the fish. That’s the cool part: We are all thinking about each other’s needs and concerns, not just our own. With this unique group of folks working together on all these different components, we can sustain the Yakima basin into the future. Kris Polly: Please tell us about the aquifer recharge work you are doing. Phil Rigdon: Over the years, we’ve witnessed a change in the groundwater table of over 25 feet in some areas. When you understand the behavior of the groundwater, you can take water during high-flow periods in the winter and use it to refill the aquifer. That will save water for the irrigation season and allow you to push back the time frame on needing to call in water in the summertime. We are currently doing this with the Toppenish Creek Alluvial Fan Project. We had a problem with a bunch of the springs and wells going dry. This was caused by flood abatement work done back in the 1970s that rapidly flushed the water out of Toppenish Creek from the White Swan area. What we are doing now is putting water into some old creeks and putting it into the flood plain. We’re trying to monitor what’s happening. We recharged 3,000 acre-feet of water into the aquifer last year; we’re trying to get up to 5,000–10,000 acre-feet per year over time. By the second year, you saw springs reappear in spots where elders told us they used to exist. They’d tell us, “You used to be able to go trout fishing here.” So we’re seeing these things come back; the flood plain is actually being recharged. Our recharge work can be passive, as in the case of the Toppenish Fan Project. Or, in the larger areas on the Wapato Irrigation Project where groundwater levels fluctuate by over 25 feet, we can use science and groundwater modeling to see how we can use that water during the year both for the benefit of fish and for the out-of-stream needs of the reservation. This could also be applied to other areas in the basin. There are opportunities east of the Yakima. Kris Polly: A variation of that idea was creating cold-water refugia by applying water on the ground during the off season. IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
Phil Rigdon: That’s exactly what we’re talking about. The water we put out in White Swan is going to come out in Toppenish Creek in July and August and will cool down those creeks. That will give us some resilience for climate change and will support the steelhead in that creek. We’d like to do the same thing to enhance the whole Yakima River. Taking care of the Bateman Island causeway issue and decreasing the river temperature with water retiming will help us withstand the 100-degree weather. It’s always been hot and dry on my side of the mountain, but in the Yakima basin, there were a million salmon before the salmon runs were damaged by roads, diversions, and water availability. I don’t know if we’ll ever reach those levels again, but our goal is to improve those numbers. Kris Polly: Is your department in charge of the irrigation project as well? Phil Rigdon: The Wapato Irrigation Project is run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but our department’s water program and engineering program are closely engaged with it. In fact, our engineering program took over and now contracts the engineering part of the Wapato Irrigation Project. We’ve been working on a combined modernization and conservation plan. Our goal is to modernize the Wapato Irrigation Project and to undertake conservation work in a manner that will provide better delivery to farmers and increase efficiency while still saving water through conservation. That will enhance fisheries and stabilize agriculture on the reservation.
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Kris Polly: What is your message to your state legislators and to Congress? Phil Rigdon: We Yakamas are well known for having gone through legal battles where we’ve duked it out and fought hard. But we should also be known for our innovation with our partners. We need to invest back into our communities. When you’re in the water business, capital projects require a lot of money. How do we start achieving things on the ground? That investment will help my community enormously, and will also help the basin as a whole, from the farmers to the packers to the workers. This investment is critical for the state of Washington. We are the leaders of salmon restoration. We provide traditional foods like salmon as well as the apples and cherries that the economy of Washington State is dependent on. More importantly, we’re doing this as a community. We’re not trying to fight with anyone. I want to see us adopt a “what’s good for the irrigators is good for the tribe; what’s good for the tribe is good for the irrigators” mentality. I’m proud of what we’re doing. We’ve got a great model that we’ve developed over time, and it’s something people should support. IL Phil Rigdon is the superintendent of the Yakama Nation’s Natural Resources Department. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Columbia Basin Project? Irrigating farmlands of the Columbia Basin in Washington State and generating $5.81 billion in annual cumulative economic impact to the state economy, the Columbia Basin Project is the largest Reclamation project in the United States. But, the Project isnâ€™t finished and access to Project water is a necessity for the economic vitality and sustainability of the PNW.
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Jason Phillips of Friant Water Authority Maintaining Crucial Infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley
he Friant Water Authority is a public agency that delivers over a million acre-feet of surface water annually to farmers in the Central Valley of California, thus stabilizing the Central Valley’s groundwater supply. The agency represents the interests of water users in the Friant Division of the federal Central Valley Project and operates and maintains the 152-mile-long Friant-Kern Canal. The Friant Division’s other vital infrastructure includes the Friant Dam on Millerton Lake and the 36-mile-long Madera Canal. Operating and maintaining these facilities takes work—and funding. Recently, ground subsidence has begun to severely hamper the functionality of the Friant-Kern Canal, affecting farmers on 330,000 acres of land. In this interview with Irrigation Leader Editor-in-Chief Kris Polly, Jason Phillips, the chief executive officer of the Friant Water Authority, discusses his agency’s plans for the Friant-Kern Canal and the challenges of securing funding for federal infrastructure in today’s fiscal climate.
Kris Polly: Please tell us about your background and how you ended up in your current position.
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Jason Phillips: I grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and graduated with an engineering degree from Portland State University. In 1998, I moved to Sacramento, California, to take a job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer and project manager and worked there for a few years on civil works and flood control projects. In 2001, I was offered and took a position at the Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento, specifically to manage a project to plan a new dam up at Millerton Lake known as Temperance Flat Dam. I took on some additional responsibilities, including dealing with the drainage issue on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. I also got involved in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which was a systemwide effort to balance California’s water supply, water quality, fishery, and flood control needs. In 2006, still working at Reclamation, I became the program manager of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, an unprecedented attempt to restore an extirpated salmon fishery on the San Joaquin River, from Friant Dam near Fresno all the way to the delta. The salmon fishery had been extinct for 60–70 years because the operation of
Friant Dam, about 40 minutes east of Fresno, impounds the San Joaquin River to form Millerton Lake, a water body that supplies surface water to hundreds of thousands of people via the Friant-Kern Canal (pictured) and Madera Canal.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY.
Friant Dam had dried up the 150 miles of the San Joaquin River below the dam. The San Joaquin River Restoration Program, which had been created as the result of an 18-year lawsuit involving the federal government, Friant contractors, and a coalition of environmental groups, had the goal of trying to restore that salmon fishery. It included over $1 billion of river-restoration work in addition to projects aiming at restoring water to the Friant contractorsâ€”the cities, counties, and districts that received water from Millerton Lake. After 5 years of that, I decided to take on the area manager position for Reclamationâ€™s Klamath Project in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I moved my family there and spent 3 years managing the Klamath Project, a federal irrigation project in Northern California and southern Oregon. Like many water projects in the western United States, the Klamath Project operates at the intersection of agriculture, tribal water rights, and threatened and endangered species. In 2013, we successfully secured a biological opinion from wildlife agencies to allow the Klamath Project to continue operations. At the beginning of 2014, I was selected to be the deputy regional director at Reclamation back in Sacramento and moved my family back. My responsibilities there included oversight of technical departments such as the engineering division, the construction division, planning, and the environmental and permitting departments in Sacramento; I also remained in charge of the Klamath Project. In 2015, the Friant Water Authority was looking for a chief executive officer and reached out to me. My past assignments, including my work on the proposed Temperance Flat Reservoir project and the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, had helped me develop relationships and build other skills that lent themselves to being CEO. I began in that position at the beginning of 2016.
Kris Polly: Would you tell us about Friant Water Authority and its history?
Jason Phillips: The facilities of the Friant Division were constructed in the early 1900s as part of the larger Central Valley Project. The Central Valley Project includes Shasta Reservoir, Folsom Dam, Friant Dam, and other canals and pumping facilities in Central California. The Friant Division, in particular, was put in place to address groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly on the east side, from Madera County, north of Fresno, all the way to Bakersfield, 200 miles to the south. This area boasts some of the most productive agricultural lands in the world, but the groundwater use was unsustainable. Friant Dam was constructed so that in This area boasts wetter years, farmers could some of the use surface water instead of groundwater and allow most productive the groundwater to agricultural lands in recharge. In drier the world, but the they go back to groundwater use was years, groundwater. unsustainable. The construction of Friant Dam was completed in 1942 and the overall project came online in 1949. Friant Dam, along with the Madera Canal, which runs 36 miles to the north, and the Friant-Kern Canal, which runs 152 miles to the south, deliver water to about 1.5 million acres of farmland. On a really good year, over 2 million acre-feet of water can be delivered; in drier years, the Friant Division receives 500,000–800,000 acre-feet. Friant Water Authority is the successor to the Friant Water Users Authority, which in 1986 acquired a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to operate and maintain the Friant-Kern Canal. Up to this point, Reclamation operated the canal directly, but in the 1980s the federal government made an effort to contract with local entities to operate and maintain federal facilities, and a group of Friant contractors banded together to form an agency to oversee the Friant-Kern Canal. In 2004, the Friant Water Authority was formed to take over the responsibility of maintaining and operating the Friant-Kern Canal. Friant Water Authority is a political subdivision of the State of California under California’s Joint Powers Agreement Act. Its primary functions are to represent its member agencies both on federal and state policy and on regulatory and political matters. We currently serve 32 public water agencies, and our governing body consists of the following 15 member agencies: Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Chowchilla Water District, the City of Fresno, Fresno Irrigation District, Hills Valley Irrigation District, Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Kern-Tulare Water District, Lindmore Irrigation District, Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, Madera Irrigation
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY.
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Measurements taken in 2015 and 2016 indicated that a portion of the Friant-Kern Canal was sinking at a rate of 1 inch per month due to major land–elevation subsidence adjacent to the canal.
District, Orange Cove Irrigation District, Porterville Irrigation District, Saucelito Irrigation District, Terra Bella Irrigation District, and Tulare Irrigation District. Kris Polly: Is the water you’re delivering used mainly for agricultural purposes? Jason Phillips: The vast majority of it is, although the City of Fresno is one of the Friant contractors and one of our members. I would also point out that most of the San Joaquin Valley communities rely in large part on groundwater. The Friant Division, as a conjunctiveuse project, helps keep those municipal water supplies sustainable by providing surface water for aquifer recharge and storage. Kris Polly: Please tell us about the work that is being done to repair the Friant-Kern Canal. Jason Phillips: The Friant-Kern Canal is a 152-mile, gravity-fed canal. At the very top of the canal, where it comes out of the Millerton Reservoir, its capacity is 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs); its capacity gradually diminishes, by design, to 2,500 cfs just south of Bakersfield. Since the beginning of the project, there has been an issue with ground subsidence throughout the entire valley. Over time, the ground slowly compacts, in part because of groundwater pumping and in part as a natural phenomenon. However, some areas in the valley and along the canal subside faster than other areas. Given that the Friant-Kern Canal is an all-gravity-fed system, in those areas that are subsiding more quickly, it loses its capacity to move water at the rate it was designed to. Right about in the middle of the 152-mile canal, there’s a 20–30 mile stretch that is subsiding at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the system—about 1 inch per month. There are a lot of reasons for that, not all of which we have identified yet. It is largely caused by groundwater pumping, but the extent and geographic reach of that pumping are still being investigated. I’ve often heard people say that the farmers in the Friant Division overpumped and sank their canal, and now they’re trying to find funding from the federal and state governments to bail them out. Actually, we’re almost certain that most if not all the groundwater pumping that’s causing the severe subsidence is occurring outside Friant Division lands. The lands that have contracts to receive water from Millerton Lake have reduced their overdraft and been more stable—that’s part of what the Friant Division was established to do. The impacts to the infrastructure are almost entirely caused by folks outside our division who receive little or no surface water. The result of that subsidence is that that stretch of the canal is only able to convey around 40 percent of the IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
4,000 cfs it is designed to convey. The effect of that, as you can imagine, is that when farmers downstream of that point need surface water, we are unable to convey it to them. Around 330,000 acres of land are affected. In some years, parts of that area receive less than half of what might be available to them that year from Millerton Lake under their Friant Division contracts. In wetter years, when there is flooding, the FriantKern Canal is used to convey flood flows and route them to designed groundwater recharge basins. The subsidence issue means that the canal has less capacity for this, too. In total, we estimate that 100,000–300,000 acre-feet of water—less in dry years and more in wet years—is not being delivered via the canal because of this capacity issue every year. The result, of course, is that 100,000–300,000 acre-feet more water is being pumped out of the ground every year instead, which is making the subsidence problem worse. More groundwater pumping, more subsidence. You can imagine that fixing this issue has risen to the top of our priority list.
Kris Polly: How do you solve that problem? Do you need to raise that section of the canal? Jason Phillips: There are several alternatives. The easy way, if you will, is to raise the banks of the canal and the concrete liners within the canal by a certain amount. To do that, you’d have to increase the entire footprint of both canal banks. Another option is to install a pump station near the bottom point of the subsidence area in order to move the water through more quickly. That does not appear to be a feasible option at this point. A third option is not to enlarge the current canal but to construct a parallel canal. That could involve either constructing a completely new canal—an offshoot of the current canal that would route around and
18 | IRRIGATION LEADER
come back into it downstream—or using one of the existing canal banks as the bank of a new parallel canal, which would mean constructing just one new bank for 30–40 miles. Without knowing the specifics of the project, an engineer would probably say that raising the banks of the existing canal is the most obvious solution. The reason we are considering a parallel canal is that along with these 30–40 miles of canal, existing county roads and bridges span our canal and have miles of approach roads. It is not easy to raise those bridges. Raising the canal banks and liners would require removing those bridges and rebuilding them. Building a parallel canal system would not. The analysis of these options is ongoing, and a report to the Friant Water Authority board on the final options is due in April.
Kris Polly: Please tell us about the alternative canal’s capacity and length. Jason Phillips: The alternative canal would run parallel to the existing canal for a distance of approximately 30 miles and would have a capacity of 3,000–4,000 cfs. Kris Polly: What are the complications of repairing or altering a canal that is currently in use? Do you foresee having to stop the flow of water entirely at any point? Jason Phillips: What we will likely have to do—and this is something the designers will have to include in their construction plans—is to extend the construction over multiple years so that we can take advantage of times when there is little flow in the canal, like the winter. We do not want to disrupt deliveries. We almost never dewater the canal, because we have a lot of citrus in this area, and in the winter when a lot of other crops need water, temperatures in the San Joaquin Valley go down to freezing, and citrus growers need water to protect their crop. Only once every 3 years do we
dewater the canal for inspection, sealing, and the removal of silt. That happens to be coming up in a year, and we will probably use as much of that period as possible, but it is only 3 months. If a parallel canal design were selected, this might also reduce impacts to water deliveries during construction, as the existing canal could potentially still be used during the construction process.
Kris Polly: Would you tell us about the challenges of funding major infrastructure projects? Jason Phillips: In California in particular, agriculture is criticized for receiving subsidies from the federal government, but in this case it is hard to secure financing at all, to say no to
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY.
bring it back to its design capacity would require $350 million or more; alternatives that would only restore part of the design capacity are in the $200 million range. Figuring out how to finance or fund that is quite challenging. We could possibly work through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or through the Farm Bill. As with many Reclamation facilities operated by local agencies, the title to the Friant-Kern Canal is still held by the United States. Even though the Friant Division’s 32 long-term contractors have a contract with Reclamation to receive water and have repaid the costs of the Friant-Kern Canal and related facilities, Reclamation still owns the canal itself. The federal government prefers to lend money for infrastructure projects to the owner of the facility in question, but in this case, the owner is itself, which complicates matters. Historically, extraordinary maintenance on Reclamation projects would be funded by appropriations. If a large repair were needed, Congress would appropriate the
In early 2017, Friant Water Authority engineers discovered that the Friant-Kern Canal was sinking when water began hitting the bottom of the bridges crossing the structure, like this bridge in Tulare County near Porterville, California.
money and we would enter into a contract to repay it. That would be fine with us, but getting funding in the budget in the climate of the last decade has been nearly impossible. Maybe a $1–2 million project is workable, but something on the magnitude of hundreds of millions of dollars is very unlikely. Aside from the 2013 stimulus package, federal infrastructure funding has been scarce. That leaves us to look at local at local financing. We expect to run into similar issues: It’s not Friant Water Authority’s facility, and lenders prefer to lend money to the owner of the facility. In 2018, California voters put an initiative called Proposition 3 on the ballot. It was essentially a $9 billion water bond and included $750 million for conveyance infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley. That would have funded the Friant-Kern Canal repairs, any capacity IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
issues with the Madera Canal, and potentially other canal repairs in the valley also. Unfortunately, it was defeated in the November election by less than 1 percent. Nevertheless, water bonds that can be passed by the voters could be a way to finance larger Our vision looking infrastructure projects forward is to have in the future.
the infrastructure and operational changes in place to ensure a long-term balance of supply and demand.
Kris Polly: Will your dams require maintenance as well?
Jason Phillips: It’s not currently on our radar, but it is true that Friant Dam is now 70 years old and at some point will require major infrastructure repairs. As in much of the West, our infrastructure was put into place 50, 75, or in some cases 100 years ago. We’ve been surviving with that gradually aging infrastructure minus what has been taken away through regulations, permitting, and measures like the Endangered Species Act. There are a whole series of new facilities and projects that have been proposed in California, but again, it is not clear where the money will come from to build them. This highlights the
20 | IRRIGATION LEADER
need for water users in the West to work with Congress, the president, and the administration to come up with a financing proposal that will allow large infrastructure projects to move forward; we can enter into whatever contracts are necessary to repay those costs. Kris Polly: Based on your experience over the last few years, what advice would you have for other water authorities facing similar large-scale infrastructure projects? Jason Phillips: My advice is to look strategically at the large infrastructure expenses you may have in the next 10–20 years and to work with your board of directors to finance them in advance. You want to have a capital fund. That’s hard. You have to collect money in advance. That’s not something people like to do—they’d rather keep the money invested. Alternately, you should put time into working with Congress to figure out how those larger infrastructure repairs will be funded. In my experience at Klamath, at Friant, and in other parts of the Central Valley Project, water users, contractors, and farmers don’t worry about federal infrastructure, thinking that when it comes time to repair it, the Bureau of Reclamation will fund it. Other than a few examples like stimulus funding, that has not been the case. When I started working with Friant in 2016, we had just had two of the worst droughts on record, back to back. There had been zero water supply allocation to Friant for the first time ever. There wasn’t much water
running in the Friant-Kern Canal, and groundwater was being pumped heavily. We were not aware at the time how fast the subsidence was accelerating because of the pumping. We talked about the canal’s capacity issues, but that was not a priority. It was not until later in the year, when we started running more water in the canal, that we realized how much capacity it had lost in just a few years. Large infrastructure repair projects are difficult to predict. It is important to plan for potential repairs in advance. Kris Polly: Looking at the long term, what is your vision for Friant? Jason Phillips: At Friant, we and our board of directors focus a lot on strategic planning and short- and long-term goals. Our top priority is to ensure that we have the right expertise and executive team and legal team to protect Friant’s water rights and supplies. Over the past 10 years, those have not been in place as solidly as they should have been to weather the challenges we’ve faced more recently, some of which the Friant contractors were facing for the first time ever.
Second, we want a sustainable San Joaquin water supply—that includes our neighbors as well. Our supply of surface water plus sustainable groundwater must equal demand so that we don’t have an overdraft issue or future subsidence. We estimate that just in the San Joaquin Valley an average of 3 million acrefeet a year is being used in excess of the available supply—that means it’s being overdrafted from the groundwater. Our vision looking forward is to have the infrastructure and operational changes in place to ensure a long-term balance of supply and demand. This year, we and our partners in the valley are preparing what we call a San Joaquin Valley blueprint, which will put forward what infrastructure and operation changes are going to be necessary and, quite possibly, how much land will need to be retired in order to reach that balance of supply and demand. That’s likely to include larger canals in addition to the Friant-Kern, new surface storage, new groundwater storage, and probably some operational changes as well. IL Jason Phillips is the chief executive officer of Friant Water Authority. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY.
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Maintaining Century-Old Infrastructure in Montana
he eight irrigation districts of Montana’s Milk River Joint Board of Control (MRJBOC, or Joint Board) deliver water to approximately 110,000 irrigated acres of alfalfa, wheat, and barley across the region known as Montana’s Hi-Line. The districts are supplied by the Milk River Project, an early Reclamation project much of whose infrastructure dates back to the early 20th century. More than half of the project’s supply derives from the St. Mary River, water from which is routed into southern Alberta before flowing back down into Montana via the Milk River. Jennifer Patrick has been the project manager for the MRJBOC since 2007, serving as a liaison to all its member agencies. In this interview with Irrigation Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill, Ms. Patrick speaks about the MRJBOC’s current priorities and the challenges of maintaining, repairing, and replacing the Milk River Project’s aging infrastructure.
Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your background and how you ended up in your current position. Jennifer Patrick: I have been with the MRJBOC for around 12 years now. When I started, I had no water experience at all—my background is in computer science and computer, engineering. I applied for my first position because the listing said you needed to like to travel, be good with computers, and be able to communicate with a variety of people. Over the last 12 years, I have gotten quite an education in water. Joshua Dill: Please tell us about the MRJBOC.
24 | IRRIGATION LEADER
district and five from the lower district. The upper district has five irrigation districts: Fort Belknap (not to be confused with the Fort Belknap Tribe), Alfalfa, and Zurich, which all share one ditch; as well as Harlem and Paradise. In the lower district, there are three irrigation districts: Dodson, Malta, Jennifer Patrick. and Glasgow. To make up for the discrepancy in number between the five irrigation districts of the upper district and the three in the lower, the two largest districts in the lower district, Malta and Glasgow, send two representatives to the Joint Board. So there are only eight irrigation districts on the Joint Board but there are 10 voting members. Right now, Wade Jones from Malta Irrigation District is the president and Joel Pruttis from Paradise is the vice president—one person from the upper district and one person from the lower. It works pretty well. The MRJBOC also involves some ex officio members from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group, and the Bureau of Reclamation, who are very active in the organization as well. There is a tribal component to the Joint Board as well, but at this time a member is not active. The MRJBOC makes most of the water allotment and delivery decision for the Milk River Project because all the districts are represented, speaking not with eight different voices but with one voice.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MRJBOC.
Jennifer Patrick: The MRJBOC was formed in 1999 with the help of the State of Montana, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Alan Mikkelsen, who is currently senior advisor to the secretary of the interior, in order to ensure the equitable and efficient delivery of water in the Milk River basin. A good team formed the MRJBOC to start talking and cooperating on important water issues in the basin. The board is composed of 10 irrigators—five from the upper
Fresno Dam and Reservoir.
Joshua Dill: Does the board mainly serve to coordinate the activities of its members, or does it also run infrastructure of its own? Jennifer Patrick: Each district runs and maintains its own day-to-day infrastructure—we try not to get involved in that. The Joint Board makes large decisions. For example, every year the Bureau of Reclamation brings the Joint Board its budget, and the Joint Board collaborates with it on larger facility projects. Right now, we are working on rehabilitating the second drop on our system. The Joint Board also sets water allotments, controls and tracks diversions from Fresno and Nelson Reservoirs, and works with the other entities in the basin to manage the valuable resource of Milk River water. Joshua Dill: What are the main infrastructure challenges that the Joint Board is currently facing or working on? Jennifer Patrick: Infrastructure expenditures on the St. Mary system are on a 75/25 split: 75 percent of the expenditures are paid by the irrigators, 25 percent by the federal government. Right now, a couple of the projects on the list are a diversion dam, last estimated at $40 million; a siphon that would cost millions of dollars; and up to five drop structures that would cost more than $2 million apiece. Seventy-five percent of any those numbers isn’t doable. Right now, cost is the largest stumbling block we have when talking about infrastructure. If the proportions of the cost share were flipped and we only had to pay 25 percent, it would be a huge improvement. Joshua Dill: What are the strategies you have considered for addressing that issue? Jennifer Patrick: We are relying heavily on Senator Daines, Senator Tester, and Congressman Gianforte to help us address this cost-share issue legislatively. We hope we will have something moving through Congress in the near future. We have also investigated different funding strategies for our upcoming projects. The State of Montana’s Department
A leak on the St. Mary Siphon.
Construction on the St. Mary Siphon, circa 1913.
of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) has been helpful in working with us on grants and funds to enable us to pursue creative solutions. We are trying to work outside the box. Otherwise, we will continue to move toward catastrophic failure.
Joshua Dill: How old is the existing infrastructure? Jennifer Patrick: I think that everything in the St. Mary region is original, meaning that it dates back to the early 1900s, aside from some updated drop structures and some siphon section repairs. Fresno Dam was built in 1939. Nelson Reservoir underwent some Safety of Dams projects in 2017, but the construction is original and dates back to 1914–15. It is tough to work with 1920s concrete because it is so degraded. Repairs are not always an option. Almost everything needs to be fully replaced. We have been playing catch-up for the past 100 years. That’s tough. The crops haven’t changed in the basin since the mid-1900s: hay, grasses, and corn. The revenue stream hasn’t varied since the 1930s, and cattle and commodity prices aren’t helping. We are just trying to keep the St. Mary system operating. Ideally, you plan your operations and maintenance budget 5 years out, but we don’t have that luxury. We don’t have the funding, and our system has been on the verge of catastrophic failure for the last 10 years. Fresno Dam and Reservoir are a little different. Aside from the fact that the reservoir loses about 500 acre-feet of storage a year to sedimentation, the facilities are in relatively good shape. There are some concerns about cracking and settling on the dam itself, which are being addressed through a Safety of Dams project last estimated at around $80 million. Besides that project, the only current need is for minor rehabilitation of the spillway. Joshua Dill: Has the MRJBOC been able to find any innovative technological solutions for repairs in the absence of funding for those larger projects? Jennifer Patrick: Not really. One of the problems is that a lot of new technologies have not received Reclamation’s
Drop 1 on the St. Mary system.
The 2011 renovation of Drop 4 on the St. Mary System, a joint project of the MRJBOC and the Bureau of Reclamation.
stamp of approval. We may pay for the majority of the operations and maintenance on the facility, but we don’t own the title or insure the facilities, they do. That means we need to adhere to their standards and directives. Joshua Dill: What are some of the larger infrastructure projects that you would like to work on? You are considering building a completely new dam, correct?
Joshua Dill: You mentioned that, without repair, the St. Mary system would be in danger of catastrophic failure. What would that look like?
26 | IRRIGATION LEADER
Joshua Dill: What is your vision for the MRJBOC? Jennifer Patrick: We would love a total rehabilitation to allow us to keep irrigating and to expand. The likelihood of $200 million just dropping into our laps is low, considering state and federal finances. We need to continue to work with our congressional representatives, our state legislators, the St. Mary Rehabilitation Working Group, the DNRC, and Reclamation to eliminate the risks of catastrophic failure. We are not gaining any capacity until the canal is completely rehabilitated, but we’d like to move beyond having to always jump to put out the newest fire. We’d like to fix things up and have a reserve in our budget for emergencies. Right now, we are just trying to hold on, because a catastrophic failure would affect 150,000 acres and dry up 250 miles of Montana Hi-Line. The Milk River is something that you could jump across in a dry year. That is not a sight any of us want to see in the future. IL Jennifer Patrick is the project manager for the Milk River Joint Board of Control. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MRJBOC.
Jennifer Patrick: I wouldn’t say we are considering a new dam—we are replacing an old structure that is barely making it through the seasons. There’s a version of that dam project being developed by Reclamation that is estimated at $40 million. On top of the aging infrastructure, we also have to keep a population of endangered bulltrout in mind, which makes the facility much more complex. The fish ladders and screens and maintenance turned what would have been a $15–20 million facility into a $40 million dam. A study carried out in 2007 estimated the cost of rehabilitating the entire St. Mary system at $138 million. Unsurprisingly, that cost has now compounded to over $200 million and continues to grow. We are going to have to get creative, because that is a huge ask for Congress, the irrigators, or the State of Montana. The State of Montana did put up a $10 million bonding authority to try to get the project moving, though at this point we have not been able to access it. To access the state bonding authority, we need a federal cost-share component, which we have not yet successfully obtained.
Jennifer Patrick: In the case of a catastrophic failure, we would lose over 90 percent of the Milk River basin water in a dry year. The project is over 20 miles long. At the beginning is the diversion dam and at the end is a series of drops. If any piece of this 1900s-era system other than the very last drop fails, the system as a whole will not drop water into the Milk River. The water is moved into Canada first and then dropped back into the United States. It’s not only the Milk River irrigators who would lose their water from a St. Mary failure—it would also affect the towns in Canada and the United States that depend on the water, the Canadian irrigators, those who have pump contracts, and tribal irrigators.
JEFF SANGER ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT WORTHINGTON’S GLOBE TROTTING CO-OWNER TO SPEND TIME WITH WIFE AND DAUGHTER
Canton, Ohio – Worthington co-owner/cofounder Jeffrey S. Sanger today announced his retirement after 18 years with Worthington and 30 years in the power industry to spend time with his wife Karen and daughter Ada-Nicole. Worthington thanks Jeff for his hard work and dedication these past 18 years.
HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS ON JEFF’S GLOBE-TROTTING ADVENTURES:
“Jeff was instrumental in building Worthington into the world-class supplier of waterway barriers that it is today. In the process, he became a travel warrior. I have treasured the opportunity to be Jeff’s business partner and good friend the last 18 years, and both the company and I wish Jeff and Karen health and happiness as they embark on life’s next exciting journey.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF WORTHINGTON.
—Worthington President Paul Meeks
¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤
Circumnavigated the globe too many times to remember. Visited over 55 countries. Travelled to 48 states (missed the Dakotas) and 8 Canadian provinces. Exceeded 225,000 air miles annually for each of the last 15 years. Lost luggage only twice in all those years. Ate just about everything imaginable. Will eat anything but eels and bell peppers. Longest trip: 38 hours—one way (Lesotho). Most bizarre travel delay: getting hauled off by a small army in Switzerland. Really! Life lesson learned: Do not, I repeat, do not, ever carry an inert WWII hand grenade in your luggage. Worst travel injury sustained: falling from a 30’ cliff in Texas (drank two bottles of whiskey and drove myself to the hospital the next day—great story, too.) Best place ever visited: Dublin, Ireland, but there are many, many places in the world I would recommend.
PLEASE JOIN WORTHINGTON IN CONGRATULATING JEFF ON A JOB WELL DONE AND BEST WISHES IN HIS RETIREMENT. IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
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Providing Compliance for the Platte River Basin
nvironmental and ecological concerns are always a high priority in the development of water infrastructure projects. In the Platte River basin states of Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP) is ensuring that water providers meet their Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance obligations by promoting the development and protection of habitat for threatened and endangered native species. To accomplish this mission, PRRIP has hired Headwaters Corporation, a natural resources management consulting firm that assists clients with water resources planning, permitting, and engineering; biological and ecological sciences; and habitat and land management. With its combination of technical expertise and practical experience, Headwaters produces innovative and sustainable land and water management solutions. In this interview with Joshua Dill, the managing editor of Irrigation Leader, Kevin Werbylo, a water resources engineer at Headwaters Corporation, discusses his organization and its efforts to preserve and create habitat in the Platte River basin states. Joshua Dill: Would you please tell us about your background and how you ended up in your current position?
Joshua Dill: Please tell us about the Headwaters Corporation. Kevin Werbylo: In 2007, the PRRIP’s governance committee selected Dr. Jerry Kenny to be the executive director of the program. Dr. Kenny formed Headwaters Corporation to serve as the office of the executive director of the PRRIP. We have a
30 | IRRIGATION LEADER
Joshua Dill: Please tell us about the Platte River Program and what it seeks to accomplish.
Kevin Werbylo, water resources engineer at the Headwaters Corporation.
Kevin Werbylo: As I mentioned, the PRRIP is an endangered species recovery program, focusing on the whooping crane, least tern, and piping plover, which find habitat in the central Platte, and the pallid sturgeon, which is found in the lower Platte. We help these species by acquiring and managing water and acquiring and restoring habitat in the Central Platte. Of course, we need to ensure that our actions for the birds do not adversely affect the habitat of the pallid sturgeon. Joshua Dill: What is the upshot for water users and irrigators? Kevin Werbylo: The PRRIP provides ESA compliance for water-related activities in the Platte basin, upstream of the Loup River confluence. If the program did not exist, water users would need to reinitiate consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for all existing water-related activities that require federal authorization. They would also be required to provide mitigation for water-related impacts at the program’s habitat focus area in central Nebraska. Without the PRRIP, the onus for compliance would fall on individual water users. PRRIP provides mitigation for all existing and new water-related activities.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HEADWATERS CORPORATION AND PRRIP.
Kevin Werbylo: I have a master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University. After graduation, I was hired to work for Headwaters Corporation. This small company is the independent entity that implements the PRRIP. I have worked for Headwaters Corporation for about 5 years now, in large part on the Platte River Program.
staff of 18 people, many of whom work almost entirely on the PRRIP. Headwaters implements the program under the guidance of a governance committee composed of stakeholders from the states, the U.S. Department of the Interior, water users, and environmental organizations.
Joshua Dill: Is that service provided by the three states? Kevin Werbylo: Yes, the PRRIP provides mitigation for all existing and new water-related activities in the basin. The states have essentially created a framework that provides ESA compliance for their water users in the basin via the program, but each state’s relationship with its water users is unique. For example, ESA compliance for Colorado water users’ new depletions is covered by participation in the South Platte Water Related Activities Program, which assists financially with program implementation. Joshua Dill: Could you describe the geographic characteristics of the area you work in?
the project, but the district will deliver the water to us via a pipeline from its canal. The recharge project infrastructure will consist of a series of water control structures and low-head berms that will be used to pond water. We also construct habitat projects. For example, we create wetlands and clear trees so that the birds can roost and nest in an open area, which they prefer because it allows them to see predators. Joshua Dill: Does this project have an endpoint, or will it continue indefinitely?
Kevin Werbylo: The habitat that is the focus area of the PRRIP extends from Lexington, Nebraska, to Chapman, Nebraska, along the Platte River. The area itself is defined as the channel plus lands within 3 miles of the channel on either side. That is where a majority of the on-the-ground work gets done and where the species observations and monitoring take place. The work in the associated habitat provides endangered species compliance for the entire Platte River basin upstream of the Loup River confluence, which includes portions of Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska.
Kevin Werbylo: The first 13-year increment of the PRRIP ends in 2019. The initial goals included the acquisition of 10,000 acres of habitat and the reduction of deficits to target flows by 130,000–150,000 acre-feet of water annually. The land milestone has been met, but the water milestone has not. That goal has been hard to achieve because of the cost of water projects and the difficulty of acquiring water in this area. Consequently, the governance committee has approved a 13-year extension to the first increment. The extension will focus on the acquisition and management of water, as well as the acquisition of an additional 1,500 acres of habitat. The extension is projected to run from 2020 through 2032 and is dependent on congressional authorization.
Joshua Dill: Are you adding water to the river, and if so, where are you getting the water?
Joshua Dill: What have the achievements of the program been so far?
Kevin Werbylo: The program uses a variety of approaches to increase river flow. The three states contribute water to the program. We also lease storage water and retime excess flows. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has defined target flows for the river—in other words, the amount of flow necessary to benefit target species—for each day of the year. When flows exceed those targets, we can divert flow and retime it by placing it back into the river during a shortage (when flows are below target). This can be done through direct storage and release or through groundwater recharge. For example, we have water stored in Lake McConaughy that can be released for PRRIP purposes, and during the nonirrigation season, we put excess water into irrigation canals to let it recharge the alluvial aquifer and return to the river through groundwater baseflow.
Kevin Werbylo: The program has 10 milestones, or goals. We have exceeded our land milestone, met the science-related milestone, and met all but two of the water milestones. We need a little more time to acquire water and do the science necessary to inform water management. The species response has also been positive. For example, tern and plover nesting has increased since program initiation as has whooping crane use of program habitat.
Joshua Dill: What kind of physical facilities are you building for this project? Kevin Werbylo: To minimize costs, we tend to use existing canals and reservoirs such as Lake McConaughy for our water projects. However, we are building a recharge project using our own infrastructure off one of Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s canals. We will operate
Joshua Dill: Does the Headwaters Corporation partner with any other entities to pursue the goals of the PRRIP? Kevin Werbylo: The program was structured as a collaborative effort among all stakeholders in the Platte basin. Headwaters works at the direction of the governance committee, and as a result, we are engaged with a wide variety of organizations, such as state and federal regulators, power districts, irrigation districts, natural resources districts, and environmental groups. We also work closely with consultants and contractors selected to implement program projects. IL Kevin Werbylo is a water resources engineer at the Headwaters Corporation. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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RESTORING CONCRETE CANALS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
quaLastic is a technology that repairs cracked canals and conveyance structures with a elastomeric product that is applied directly to the concrete and, crucially, can expand and contract during winter freezes. The product has been used widely in the western United States on facilities owned by irrigation districts and government entities for more than 20 years with 100 percent success. In this interview, Walter Winder, the exclusive sales representative at Hydro Consulting, speaks with Irrigation Leader Managing Editor Joshua Dill about the advantages of AquaLastic and how it can help irrigation districts with their infrastructure challenges. AquaLastic being used to repair Panicker Drop, near Fallon, Nevada, after an earthquake.
Joshua Dill: Please tell us about your background and how you got into your current position. Walter Winder: I was born and raised in Fallon, Nevada, which takes in the Newlands Reclamation Project. I went to work for Truckee-Carson Irrigation District right out of college in 1979 as a laborer and stayed with the irrigation district for just over 36 years, working as a heavy equipment operator, carpenter, weed control supervisor, truck driver, lead carpenter, operations and maintenance foreman, and deputy manager. After that, I chose to go back to my family farm and my cattle. A little before that, I had been approached by Tom Matheson from Hydro Consulting, who asked if I’d be interested in getting involved with Hydro Consulting and with AquaLastic. I gave it a lot of thought and finally decided that if there were something I could do to help out other
34 | IRRIGATION LEADER
people who were in the same position that I had been in at various times with the irrigation district, it was worth it. Water and irrigation are a passion for me. I enjoy being involved in the irrigation business, and I like the people that you’re able to work with in it. There are a lot of problems to deal with and solve, and I guess I’ve become fairly good at figuring them out and solving them.
Joshua Dill: Please tell us about Hydro Consulting and AquaLastic. Walter Winder: Twenty years ago, Tom Matheson saw a need that irrigation districts had and set about developing a product to help them. He founded Hydro Consulting in 1996 and developed the AquaLastic elastomeric canal crack and joint sealant. AquaLastic has been successfully used on more than 22 million feet of crack and joint repair and has been chosen for Bureau of Reclamation Water Saver
programs, projects, and studies for the past 18 years. It’s been used extensively in the Northwest. I got involved to try to open up some new areas in the Southwest. We’re looking to broaden our horizons.
Joshua Dill: What is AquaLastic and how does it function? Walter Winder: AquaLastic is a product that deals with cracking in concrete, particularly in water conveyance structures like channels and reservoirs. In areas with big temperature variations, the freeze-thaw cycle is a major problem for structures like these. Water works its way into their substructures, and when winter comes, the water freezes and expands and cracks the channels. That process reoccurs every year and makes the problem worse. It’s a complicated problem and an annually costly one. AquaLastic is an elastomeric product that has been formulated
Truckee-Carson Irrigation District's Derby Spill, treated with AquaLastic.
specifically for irrigation canal repair
and is applied hot and under pressure to the cracks in these concrete structures. It adheres to the concrete and seals the cracks, and as the name suggests, it has enough elasticity to absorb the expansion and contraction that takes place during the freeze-thaw cycle. That keeps the water from getting out of the channel and going into the substructure of the lining.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HYDRO CONSULTING.
Joshua Dill: What are the methods that canal owners might otherwise use to address that problem, and what are the advantages of AquaLastic over those alternatives? Walter Winder: While I was still working at the district, I ended up with a recommendation for operation and maintenance (RO&M) project from the Bureau of Reclamation to seal cracks on a large diversion canal. There are lots of things on the market that you can use to try to repair these
cracks, and we had tried many of them. Over the past 50 years, districts have used tar, coal tar, various types of caulking, and gunite cement products to repair cracks and joints. All have failed to pass the test of time. Coal tar,
"The oldest of our AquaLastic applications has lasted for more than 23 years so far, with no end in sight."
— Walter Winder caulking, and roofing tar are quickly degraded by the water and the weather. Concrete products are rigid and fail quickly. Most of these methods fail in 1–3 seasons, while AquaLastic has a 23-year history of 100 percent success. That reduces a district’s cost per season. The elasticity of AquaLastic means that if an AquaLastic-sealed canal does undergo some stress during the
freeze-thaw cycle, any movement will take place in the areas that have already been sealed. That is a great benefit. The oldest of our AquaLastic applications has lasted for more than 23 years so far, with no end in sight. Joshua Dill: Who are your customers and where are they located? Walter Winder: The majority of our customers are irrigation districts, ranging from northern Washington State to southern Texas. We have been consistently expanding our territory. Joshua Dill: Who applies your product? Do you have dedicated application personnel? Walter Winder: There are two ways of applying the material. The main method is high-pressure AquaLastic, which is applied by Hydro Consultingcertified applicators. No matter how good a material is, if it is not applied IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
The treatment of a channel lining for Carlsbad Irrigation District.
properly, it can fail. We are strict about how the applications are done. We also have a low-pressure system, which is used in lowvolume applications. People can actually buy that system and apply the material themselves after they have been certified by a Hydro Consulting trainer. To find out more, readers can call Hydro Consulting at the number listed at the end of this article. Joshua Dill: How can AquaLastic help agencies that need to repair or replace infrastructure?
Joshua Dill: So your product is affordable compared to alternative methods?
36 | IRRIGATION LEADER
Walter Winder: When you look at the alternative methods, it’s extremely affordable. Demolishing and rebuilding a structure requires a major engineering effort and big expenses. If you have a concrete-lined channel that’s starting to degrade and crack, our product can allow you to get several more years of life out of it while you work on a long-term plan to replace or rehabilitate it. Joshua Dill: How has your experience working for an irrigation district informed the work you do at AquaLastic? Walter Winder: As I mentioned, while at the district I dealt with a RO&M project to seal cracks in a diversion canal. To repair the canal, it needed to be left dewatered for an extended period of time. I contacted Hydro Consulting, and they came out, made an assessment, and had one of their certified applicators make the initial treatment of AquaLastic. That was in 2010 or 2011. To this date, the structure is still functioning perfectly. So I myself had a problem, and AquaLastic was the solution. The reality is that every district and municipality that deals with water conveyances has concrete. If you have concrete, you have cracked concrete. If you have cracked concrete, AquaLastic can help. Joshua Dill: What is your vision for AquaLastic? Walter Winder: I think AquaLastic has a lot of potential, not only from the maintenance perspective but from the efficiency and conservation perspectives as well. I’d like to see us grow the product and help people in this industry solve their problems. IL Walter Winder is the executive sales representative at Hydro Consulting. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about AquaLastic, visit www.aqualastic.com or call (509) 792-1777.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HYDRO CONSULTING.
Walter Winder: When I was with Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, I often felt that our infrastructure was particularly aged. The Newlands Project was one of the first Reclamation projects instituted. With that said, now that I’ve traveled around the country quite a bit, I find that I was not alone in that predicament. Water conveyance infrastructure all over the country is in need. AquaLastic can help maintain and repair that infrastructure. Beyond that, it is also a good product for increasing efficiency and cutting down on loss. We did a project here about 3 years ago repairing a big check structure that had gotten cracked in a major earthquake and had remained cracked for years. The irrigation district excavated it for us, and with the approval of Reclamation, we went in and did a rather extensive treatment with AquaLastic, installed some lining, and then used AquaLastic over the top of that. We were able to bring some new life to that structure. There are a lot of cases like that— we have been able to extend the life expectancy of big flumes and other structures that would have cost millions of dollars to replace. Some of our applications have been out for more than 20 years and are still functioning perfectly.
Truckee-Carson Irrigation District's Derby Spill, treated with AquaLastic.
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The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty is critical to irrigators in the Columbia River basin. The Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District supports efforts to ensure that the interests of farmers who rely on water from the Columbia River to grow crops in arid central Washington have a seat at the table and maintain their water rights.
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BUSINESS LEADER A riverscreen floating pump.
Riverscreen’s Versatile Floating Pump
he Riverscreen is an innovative floating screen that can pump and filter out debris from running water as shallow as 4 inches. Bob Wietharn, the company’s founder and the inventor of the Riverscreen, has also invented a floating pump screen that can handle pumps moving anywhere from 20 to 5,000 gallons per minute. This makes it useful for a broad variety of applications, from supplying single users with water to supplying entire irrigation districts. In this interview, Mr. Wietharn speaks with the editor-inchief of Irrigation Leader, Kris Polly, about his invention and its broad variety of current applications. Kris Polly: Please tell us about your company’s history and how you got started.
42 | IRRIGATION LEADER
Kris Polly: What year did you make your first floating pump screen? Bob Wietharn: In 2008, a drip tape company contacted me to ask whether we could put 120 mesh on our Riverscreens so that they could pump water out of rivers and streams directly through their drip tape. We proceeded to develop what we call a Gravity Flow Riverscreen. The outlet pipe of the Gravity Flow Riverscreen is submerged, and the rotating drum is about 70 percent submerged. This varies from our standard model, which is about 30 percent submerged and can pump out of as little as 4 inches of water. The point of this model is to get more of the rotating drum in the water, because in the past, we couldn’t get enough water through our standard Riverscreens when operating in extremely dirty water sources with a lot of silt. In the field test, the Riverscreen ran for about 2 hours. They said that 15 engineers had worked on this problem for several years and had never been able to pump from this particular stream without the screen failing after a few minutes. Down the road, that company decided that our floating screens were too expensive for their market, so we ended up parting ways. I felt, though, there were other uses for the
PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIVERSCREEN.
Bob Wietharn: In 1996, we attempted pumping water from a local river into a center pivot. It was nearly impossible because of the problem of plugging nozzles. The debris was so terrible that we had problems keeping the pump primed. The following year, I tried to find a screen to help me with the issue, but I couldn’t find anything available on the market. So in 1997, we built the first prototype Riverscreen and went through the summer with high hopes and even better results. The unit was originally made out of steel and was very heavy. Seeing that the prototype unit wouldn’t hold up over time, the following summer I set out to build one out of aluminum. Word spread quickly, and soon my neighbors started asking me to build them Riverscreens as well. After building a couple the first year, word got around even faster. We built 12 Riverscreens with the expectation
that we would have them in stock to sell over a couple seasons. That was 1999. By the fall, we had sold every unit we had built. This continued year after year, and we scaled our operations to try to keep up with demand. In 2001, we decided to incorporate. This was when Riverscreen became trademarked.
BUSINESS LEADER Bob Wietharn with his son and grandson.
of the floats depends on the size of the pump and motor. We offer 4-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch outlets on the Riverscreen. The discharge size of the pump can be customized to fit into an existing system. Our Gravity Flow model can handle anything from a pump that moves 20 or 30 gallons per minute up to a 150-horsepower pump that moves 5,000 gallons per minute. Kris Polly: How many countries do you have your products in now?
Gravity Flow Riverscreen, so we continued to develop it, and the version we offer now has been a tremendous success. Its popularity has grown even more since it started being used with our floating pump screens. Our floating pump screens, which have been on the market for 7–8 years now, use a standard centrifugal pump mounted vertically and floating on the same framework as the Gravity Flow Riverscreen. Set up like this, the volute can be submerged as well, and once the volute is half underwater, the pump becomes selfpriming. It is a great option for anybody with an electricdriven centrifugal pump who needs to pull water from rivers, lakes, streams or livestock lagoons. The Gravity Flow does require a deeper water source than our standard Riverscreen does. The smaller version requires water of a depth of about 16 inches, and the larger versions could need as much as 30 inches. Because of the water depth requirement, they tend to be most popular with customers who are pumping out of lakes, reservoirs, or livestock lagoons. We have sent many of them to California for use in irrigation. They use them in their small, canal-fed reservoirs. We have started offering mesh sizes that are finer than our factory 8 mesh, for instance 120 mesh, which allows users to pump directly into drip tape. Another advantage of our floating pump models is the amount of screen area that is in the water. This keeps the intake velocity below National Marine Fisheries Service standards and, with the right mesh size, meets the agency’s other criteria. As a consequence, states with very strict environmental laws, like Maryland and Washington, prefer producers to use Riverscreens over other available options. Kris Polly: What kind of pumps do you use with the floating pump screen, and how much water can they pump? Bob Wietharn: We are a Cornell dealer and supply their pumps for the unit, but other manufacturers’ pumps will work with our system as well, if they are close coupled. We have a series of adjustment holes that allow us to use different-sized pumps on our three available sizes. The size
Bob Wietharn: We have sold our floating pump in three or four countries. As far as Riverscreens in general, I would say we sell in over 50 countries now. We’ve lost track. We just recently sold two screens in Greece and Germany. This is the first time we’ve sold in Greece. We have a unit in Papua New Guinea in an area where the only water available is unfiltered surface water. We put 320 mesh on our Gravity Flow Riverscreen and sent it over there on a floating pump. It only pumps about 50 gallons per minute, but that is extremely dirty water going through 320 mesh, which is so fine that the holes in it are roughly half the width of a human hair. The water is then used as potable water for the town. Kris Polly: What’s the largest floating pump you’ve done? Bob Wietharn: I believe we have done a 200-horsepower open drip proof electric pump. That was more of a high-head pump. It all depends on the weight of the motor. Totally enclosed fan cooled motors are much heavier than open drip proof motors. Another good example are the three large pumps we provided an irrigation project in North Dakota that pumps out of the Missouri River. Those are 150-horsepower pumps that move 2,700 gallons per minute. All those pumps are automated and on variable-frequency drive. When one partner wants water and opens the valve, the pressure drops and the pumps come on. The more farmers open valves to supply their pivots, the faster the pumps speed up. Kris Polly: Is there any final message that everyone should know about your pumps and your screens? Bob Wietharn: The huge advantage is that it’s self-priming. Because the volute is over 50 percent submerged, all you need to do is start the motor and it will instantly be primed. They also have a skid framework under them for easier installation or removal. We also clean the screen in the atmosphere, as with our standard Riverscreen; it takes very little water and very little pressure. IL Bob Wietharn is the inventor and manufacturer of the Riverscreen. For more information, visit www.riverscreen.com. IRRIGATIONLEADERMAGAZINE.COM
WATER RESOURCES REGULATORY ENGINEER FLSA Status – Non Exempt Unrepresented – Grade Q Salary: $41.28 to $61.92/Hour – Grade Q DESCRIPTION: + Will develop, implement and manage various management plans and activities related to surface, groundwater resources, reservoir operations, and ensuring efficient and effective regulatory compliance, in accordance with Board directives. QUALIFICATIONS: + Any combination of experience and education that would prepare the candidate for the duties and responsibilities of the position is acceptable. + Completion of a Bachelor’s degree in geology, hydrogeology, civil engineering, or a related degree. + Minimum of five (5) years of progressively responsible professional geologic and hydrogeological experience, including at least one year’s experience supervising technical staff. + State of California registration as a Geologist, Engineering Geologist, Hydrogeologist, or Professional Engineer is preferred.
APPLY AT: https://Merced.accessgovernment.net/ ApplicantTracking
Does your irrigation district have a job listing you would like to advertise in our pages? Irrigation Leader provides this service to irrigation districts free of charge. For more information, please email Kris Polly at firstname.lastname@example.org
CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE DEPARTMENT MANAGER Salary: $9,169.00 — $11,704.00/Monthly DESCRIPTION: + Plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate the construction and maintenance of irrigation systems, equipment, buildings and grounds. + Provide highly responsible and technical staff assistance; and be involved with the planning and designing of district facilities. + Plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate through staff, and other district departments and divisions the construction and maintenance of irrigation and other district facilities. + Develop and implement department goals, objectives, policies, procedures, and priorities. + Select, train, discipline, and evaluate staff. + Ensure that work is done in accordance with accepted standards and work practices, follow district goals, objectives, mission and vision. + Review plans, drawings, and applications for irrigation system structures and make recommendations with regard to their feasibility. + Through routine inspections from staff, water distribution, and civil engineering, determine irrigation system and other district facilities needs in regards to new construction, maintenance, or repair. + Prepare reports, supervise the maintenance of appropriate filing and record keeping systems. + Prepare and administer the Construction and Maintenance Department's operation and maintenance budget, the yearly and five year capital budgets. + Assist other district departments and divisions with their budgets. QUALIFICATIONS: + Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with course work in construction management, operations management or a related field. Job knowledge and ability may be substituted for education. + Five (5) years of supervisory and management experience in the construction and maintenance of various types of irrigation systems,structures, dwellings, and facilities.
www.tid.org - Applications accepted until position is filled or enough qualified applicants are received.
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