09 Jun 70th Season of water delivery in the Columbia basin project
By: Roger Sonnichsen, Secretary-Manager, QCBID
In 2021, Reclamation started filling the West Canal for the 70th season on March 17. The Bifurcation Works were officially opened August 28, 1951 and water was released into the West Canal for the first time. Water reached Quincy by noon on August 29, 1951. These events followed official opening of the Dry Falls Dam gates earlier in the month and two weeks to fill Billy Clapp Reservoir to the outlet gate sills.
“Many major events occurred in 1951 regarding the West Canal. Early in the summer Winston-Utah Company completed and tested the Soap Lake Siphon. Morrison-Knudson Company completed the second section in the spring. J.A. Terteling and Sons, Inc completed the Winchester Wasteway in the spring and the fourth section of the canal and the Columbia River wasteway turnout late in the fall. Marshal Hass and Royce Company completed the third section in mid-summer. The entire West Canal to the Columbia River Wasteway turnout was primed and tested. Some leakage occurred in the unlined section and designs were taken to affect the necessary repair. Excavation for the extension of the West Canal to the Frenchman Hills Tunnel and for the Frenchman Hills Wasteway was completed by Peter Kiewit Sons. About 4,000 feet of the Frenchman Hills Tunnel had been driven by the United Concrete Pipe Corporation and Ralph A Bell Company by the end of the year. Most of the tunnel was through broken basalt and considerably more steel supports and timber lagging were required than had been expected.” - Excerpt from Columbia Basin Project 1951 Annual Project History Volume XIX
This year, District crews began 2021 deliveries on March 22 following five days needed to fill the West Canal through to the Frenchman Hills Tunnel. The 2021 irrigation season demand has been strong given the dry winter and spring. Deliveries are 60% above the five-year average through April.
This 70th year of irrigation startup has gone well with no major canal issues. The biggest challenge has been weeds and cornstalks being blown into the canals from windy days.