ELC Gate Automation Nearing the Halfway Point

ELC Gate Automation Nearing the Halfway Point

Robin Adolphsen, district engineer for the East Columbia Basin Irrigation District, said that the automation of the gates on the East Low Canal is about 50 percent complete.

“With the East Low Canal, we have looked at all the gates we need to do and we are close to halfway done with them,” she said. “Depends if we continue to do the ones farther north. As the plans progress in the design work, we will have the push to put more of those in.”

So far, 39 gates have been automated on the East Low Canal, the biggest canal in the ECBID. Adolphsen described the automation as a project that’s been in the works for three years now. The automated gates allow for a more efficient delivery of water, she added, without needing to send ditch riders out to make adjustments.

Using human power is still the standard in the ECBID, though, Adolphsen said.

“Most of our gates are still manual. The East Low Canal has always done it with automation but we have a lot of canals and a lot of gates,” she said. “It would take years and more finances to get everything automated.”

Some of the bigger gates can cost about $30,000 to automate, and that doesn’t include installation or maintenance. The benefits are quite considerable in water conservation, though.

“We conserve water by not spilling it when we get additional water in the canal. As the canal level rises, the gate closes and it maintains the same flow,” Adolphsen said, adding that a rough estimate of the water conservation thanks to the 39 gates is about 20,000 acre-feet.

It will take about three to four years to have all the ELC gates automated, Adolphsen predicted. “That’s our goal, it all depends on our funding and how much the board would like to continue it,” she said

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