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Funds sought for canal project
Over the years, the Colorado River water flowing through the Gila Gravity Main Canal has left a little of itself behind.
Today, an average of 4 feet of sediment deposited by the water has built up in the canal, reducing water delivery efficiency and causing water seepage.
The Gila Gravity Main Administrative Board is hoping to do something about that, and in the process also make some upgrades to the system that would improve delivery efficiency, reduce seepage and conserve water.
The board has applied for a $827,000 matching grant from the North American Development Bank Water Conservation Investment Fund.
Preliminary approval has been granted by the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission, which is certifying applicants for the funds. Final approval is expected in March, said Wade Noble, Yuma attorney who represents three of the irrigation districts that draw water from the canal.
Noble represents the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, the largest user of the canal, as well as Yuma Irrigation District, which serves the South Gila Valley, and the North Gila Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.
The Gila Gravity Main Canal also delivers Colorado River water to the Yuma Mesa and Unit B Irrigation and Drainage districts, city of Yuma, Far West and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. It also will be the main water source for the new water treatment plant the city is building on the mesa.
Any water not used by these entities goes to the Central Arizona Project.
The canal delivers from 600,000 to 700,000 acre feet of water annually.
The project could save an estimated 45,000 acre feet of water a year, Noble said, noting that would nearly satisfy the city of Yuma's contract for 50,000 acre feet per year.
"It would allow more efficient use of the water," Noble said. "That would be available for other water users, the environment and the state of Arizona."
In addition to the removal of the buildup of sediment, the project would include installing a water measurement structure for more accurate measurement and delivery of water orders, and development of information from the canal to better manage it and perhaps lead to remote controls.
A sealant would be applied in some areas because of high groundwater caused by excessive seepage.
"We would do that only after study to show the effect," Noble said. "It's a catch-22 of seepage and high groundwater causing problems for the farmers but at the same time creating habitat. We need to weigh these."
If the final certification is granted by BECC, Noble said he anticipates receipt of the funds by the end of May and work to start by the end of July. The project is expected to take about 18 months. Much of the preliminary work has been done already.
BECC has already certified two other water conservation projects in the Yuma area. The Yuma County Water Users was certified in October for $3 million and the Bard Water District was certified in December for $4 million to improve their water delivery systems. Those projects are expected to start this summer.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6853.