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Bureau of Reclamation and Oregon Department of Energy help fund improvements
By Jill Aho, Herald and News 9/3/09
Several Klamath Basin irrigation districts have made significant upgrades to conserve energy and water with the help of funds from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Oregon Department of Energy.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s Water Conservation and Field Services Program has been available in the Klamath area for eight years, with funding varying from year to year depending on allocations from Congress, said spokesman Kevin Moore.
The Klamath Irrigation District, which serves around 40,000 acres of land and 3,000 individual users, received funding to upgrade its Miller Hill pumping station, said district manager Dave Solem.
The pumping station was installed in 1949 as a temporary fix. Demand for water deliveries was more than could be transported from the A Canal through a flume that crosses Highway 39, and the pumping station was designed to help address that demand, Solem said.
The previous pumping station relied on three pumps with fixed pumping rates which could not be fine tuned to meet actual demand.
The result was a circle of pumping that was both wasteful and costly in terms of energy consumption, Solem said.
“Excess water was brought right back to the point of pumping,” Solem said. Variable-frequency drives attached to two new pumps give more precise control of how much water is pumped up to the canal, some 14 feet away from the Lost River Diversion channel.
“We can match our demand more exactly and don’t have to pump more water than is required,” Solem said. The upgrade — which cost about $620,000, $300,000 of which came from a Bureau of Reclamation grant — should save the district 18 percent on its power bills.
That’s especially important as the district’s power rates increase exponentially. A 50-year contract with Pacific Power ended in 2006 and the district’s power rates are being increased to match what residential customers pay.
“It could be as much as 10 times the cost of what we were paying before,” Solem said.
Enterprise Irrigation District completed a similar project in fall 2008 with grant funding from the Oregon Department of Energy.
The nonprofit district, which serves about 2,000 acres and 1,650 mostly suburban customers, plans to use a pass-through option for the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit.
That will allow the district to sell its tax credit to a business with a tax liability and get a return, said district manager Shane McDonald.
The district installed new high-efficiency pumps and motors, along with the variable-speed drive that allows accurate adjustment of how much water is being pumped from the A Canal into the district’s delivery system.
The project cost about $255,000, of which the Department of Energy grant covered $122,700, he said.
Another project, funded with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds obtained by Klamath Community College, enclosed one of the district’s main delivery canals which runs through KCC’s property. The buried pipe is likely to save water that would have been lost to the air or ground, McDonald said.
“I can’t imagine the amount of water lost through evaporation and saturation,” he said. “I think (the KCC project) is one of the larger savings.”
Pipe installed prior to the KCC project was funded by grants from the Bureau of Reclamation, McDonald said. Additionally, the Bureau of Reclamation granted $9,170 of the $12,000 cost to install a meter which measures the amount of water used by the district.
“The district has never had a truly accurate way to measure how much water is used,” McDonald said. “It gives us a better account of what allocation Enterprise Irrigation District would need to run in a year.”
On the return side of irrigation, the Klamath Drainage District received funds to build two spillways and to repair leaking pipes and a headgate that will conserve water for downstream uses.
The three projects totaled $29,340, of which $14,670 came from a Bureau of Reclamation grant.
Klamath Drainage District manager Joe Frost said water being returned to irrigators or the Klamath River via the drainage district often fills the drainage canals to the brim.
A storm event has the potential to destroy canal banks rapidly and possibly overrun the banks, running the risk of flooding a farmer’s field, he said.
The spillways function as a safety measure to prevent overflow, Frost said.
“It’ll save the (district) money if the canal doesn’t wash out.. If it washes out, it’s going to flood a hay or grain field and the district will have to pay for that if it washes out,” he said.
“You don’t want to flood the whole Lower Klamath Lake because you wanted to save some money and not put this spillway in place.”
Page Updated: Sunday September 06, 2009 03:01 AM Pacific
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