Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Active Water Management in All Water Years - Anjanette Shadley Martin

Making the efficient use of our water supply in any "type" of water year is always a priority but even more so when you see these headlines:
·       "Groundwater worries in San Joaquin Valley Intensify, along with drought" (Mark Grossi 9/24)
·       "UC Professors look at declining California Groundwater and how to manage it into the future" (LA Times 9/23)
·       Judge halts water releases from Trinity River for Salmon until Friday (Mercury News 8/14)
·       Valley Farmers Urge More Water Storage (Hanford Sentinel 8/12)
·       Controversial Imperial Water Transfer Upheld (Imperial Press On-line 8/9)
Here in the Sacramento Valley, water managers manage water efficiently in a flow-through system for various beneficial purposes: farms, fish, birds, cities and rural communities. More specifically here in Western Canal Water District (WCWD) we work in concert with our farmers to utilize this precious resource efficiently.
WCWD was formed by the landowners in 1984 after purchasing the system from PG&E who acquired it from the Great Western Power Company. The canal was originally constructed in 1911 by the Western Canal Company whose original dam on the Feather River was displaced by the construction of Lake Oroville Complex in 1960's.  WCWD's predominate crop is rice.  Our farmers utilize the latest technologies and agronomic practices. For example;
·       Utilizing laser leveling to assure a uniform depth of water in an aquatic rice growing environment;
·       Active field level water measurement during the growing season through field level water measurement; and
·       Grower funded rice breeding program through the California Rice Experiment Station (USDA/UC Davis) which over the years has resulted in the development of early maturing varieties.
PG&E, a public utility, operated a fully-metered system which WCWD inherited and operates today.  WCWD also incorporates other efficient water delivery practices including operation of automated canal elevation control structures, three siphon facilities that allow the bypass of inefficient and dangerous main stream seasonal flash board dam structures and the construction of the Replogle Flume Meter Testing Station in 2002.
Flume downstream view
The Replogle Flume and Meter Testing Station allows WCWD to accurately test and verify accurate flow measurements of meters that measure water at the farm-gate.  The Replogle Flume has been endorsed by the Irrigation Training and Research Center at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for over 20 years and was designed by the highly regarded Dr. John Replogle (ITRC Report 02-2010).  WCWD water operators are busy performing meter maintenance and replacement annually in preparation of spring deliveries to farmers.  WCWD currently utilizes various meter sizes that correspond with circumference of pipes the field level water delivery point, i.e. 12", 18", 21", 24", 30" or 36".  The Testing Station has corresponding size screw gates to accurately assess the accuracy of the meters.  WCWD uses open flow propeller meters designed to deliver .2% accuracy and comes with an instantaneous flow-rate indicator and totalizer.

Replogle Flume upstream view
The Replogle Flume and Meter Testing Station are one component of WCWD's commitment to manage our water resources in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner.  In concert with other Sacramento Valley Water managers from Woodland to Redding - Chico to Marysville, we encourage you to read Northern California Water Association's report on "Efficient Water Management for Regional Sustainability in the Sacramento Valley" available at www.norcalwater.org to more fully understand the multitude of practices employed throughout the region. 
Water Operators testing meters

WCWD is also proud that earlier this year we installed a Wildlife and Rice Farming webcam which just wrapped up viewing the various aspects of rice harvest. Soon these same fields, which provide important habitat and a significant food source; estimated to be about 60% valley wide, will be home to thousands of wintering waterbirds. We hope you will visit the webcam at www.westerncanal.com and view this magnificent site.  Stay updated on webcam action by following us on Twitter @WCWDwebcam, while videos of various aspects of farming, our natural surroundings and community can be viewed on our YouTube Channel also at WCWDwebcam.

Want more info? Then watch this video!

A special thanks to Anjanette & Western Canal Water District for this special blog post!

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