Greetings Stockholders! In this report, I will try to bring you up to date on the following 2020 happenings at TFCC: Current Water Supply and Snowpack, Winter Construction Projects, Water Quality, Recharge, and Milner Dam Issues. I will also post pictures of each item on our website. Let’s get started…
Water Supply. We all need to go outside and do our “snow dance”! The current snowpack levels are at about 88% of normal in the Upper Snake Watershed, so not terrible, but lots of room for improvement. There is still ¾ of the snow accumulation season ahead and we ended the irrigation season with excellent reservoir carryover storage, so my crystal ball still tells me that 2021 will be another great irrigation season. In case some of you doubt my early winter voo-doo forecast, in April we will mail you our TFCC Spring Newsletter with a water supply forecast that is up to date and more scientific, than mine. In the meantime, you can always go to twinfallscanal.com for daily snowpack, streamflow, and reservoir storage information.
Winter Construction. The relatively dry fall weather has helped TFCC crews stay ahead of schedule on all concrete structure construction, road graveling, right-of-way improvements, ditch piping, and of course battling our # 1 enemy the Russians! (olives that is). In addition to these maintenance projects, we applied for and were approved for two wetland construction cost share grants in 2020. One is a Flood Management Grant from the Idaho Water Resource Board, and one a Water Smart Grant from the Bureau of Reclamation. Thanks to the skill and dedication of our O&M crews these projects on O-Coulee and on Lateral 43 Drain are now nearing completion. These two beautiful new wetlands will capture over 1,000 tons of sediment and associated nutrients annually and will also mitigate flooding of downstream properties.
Water Quality. The Southern Idaho Water Quality Coalition (SIWQC) was formed 2 years ago to proactively improve water quality in the Middle Snake River. In addition to TFCC, the Coalition consists of a broad range of water users including Municipalities, Food Processors, Dairymen, Aquaculture Facilities, Ground Water Users, and Conservation Groups. SIWQC was the Sponsor for the Water Smart Grant that TFCC is using to build the two 2020 Wetland Projects I described above. TFCC has been a leader in cleaning up the Mid-Snake for many years, and our efforts are having a huge positive impact! We are confident that partnering with all of these industries we will achieve the clean, healthy Snake River that we all desire. With support from SIWQC we will continue to build large water quality projects, encourage farmers to protect their soil, and we will educate the public about all the terrific work we are doing. Please visit the new SIWQC website at siwqc.org to watch our progress.
Recharge. The Idaho Water Resource Board is running managed recharge water this winter thru the Milner Gooding Canal to the Milepost 31 site, thru the Burley Pipeline to numerous recharge wells, and thru the Twin Falls Canal to Murtaugh Lake. When snow pack levels and reservoir levels allow for additional releases, the IWRB has developed many additional recharge sites ready to take that water and put it into the ground. The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer is hands-down our largest reservoir with the ability to store and give back several million acre feet, so when the flood comes, we need to capture as much of it as possible! IWRB recharge is presently over 100,000 acre feet since the end of the irrigation season and hopefully will reach the 400,000 acre foot mark that was attained each of the last two seasons. In addition to the recharge program, the Idaho Groundwater Appropriators have also exceeded the reductions in pumping agreed to in the 2015 Settlement Agreement. With all water users working together, we are recovering the aquifer and increasing the reach gains that we all depend on. We all owe a huge thank-you to our Idaho State Legislature for their monumental efforts in financing and developing our recharge and water management programs!
Milner Dam. Milner Dam was built by the Twin Falls Land and Water Company in 1903-1905, rebuilt in 1990-1992 and today is still the most important structure in the Magic Valley. It diverts water to the 500,000 acres of productive farmland that supports all of our local economies. Twin Falls and North Side Canal Companies jointly own, operate, and maintain the Dam. It is a huge responsibility and a job that has become even bigger since the Oroville Dam disaster in 2017. The Oroville Dam near failure triggered a whole new level of Federal inspections, regulations and safety protocols. Our crews are capable of handling any normal O&M at the Dam, but we have hired Jacobs Engineering out of Boise to help us satisfy the geotechnical, seismic, and maximum flood hydrologic modeling now required. We are confident that it is still a very safe and stable dam and will pass all these additional tests with relatively modest improvements.
What Else?? Couple of updates from last years projects: 1. The liner we installed in the Highline Canal at Rock Creek is performing exceptionally well saving water for all stockholders! We plan on applying for another Water Conservation Grant in 2021 to line the next downstream reach and get us beyond the Rock Creek gravel pits that we consider our “leakiest” stretch. 2. The 80 acre gravel pit near Hollister that we purchased and began excavating in 2019 is exceeding all our expectations! When we bought the pit in 2018 we were expecting roughly 5 feet of good gravel under the topsoil. After a year of excavating we now know there is at least 12 feet of gravel and it is of excellent quality for our TFCC O&M purposes. Look for our 2021 Spring Newsletter for updates on all of the above issues. Live long and prosper!! ….