Price reviews pilot irrigation program
After one week of using a pilot program to manage irrigation water, Price city councilmembers believe the guidelines are working better than planned.
Breanna Welch, a public works department secretary for the city, gave a report about the progress of the program in a June 8 council meeting.
The pilot program has been in planning stages since April and was implemented on June 1 along participating ditches.
Councilmembers and staff have discussed the program since April.
The city originally cut a full-time water master and, in spring 2005, officials introduced a policy that requires water users to manage their own watering times.
At the April 13 meeting, the city promised that they would continue to open and close each head gate at the canal according to the current water schedule as a part of the original plan.
The plan left many users concerned due to the water running from anywhere between 24 to 30 hours, leaving some shareholders having to take their turn watering late at night or early in the morning.
During the course of discussion at the April 13 meeting and in subsequent sessions, shareholders along the city's ditch systems have voiced concerns about the matter.
Many were worried that elderly shareholders may have an especially difficult time working at these hours.
Additionally, councilmembers and shareholders expressed concern over an increased chance of injury.
Many residents in attendance agreed with this, adding that it may also be difficult to work with this schedule if they have a job or some other scheduling conflict.
At a meeting at Price City Hall on April 18 for shareholders, local water users expressed additional concerns for the irrigation program.
During the meeting, water users decided they wanted their old irrigating hours back.
With the help of the city, an estimated rate of flow that would deliver the correct water shares to users was determined.
The water users also expressed the need for the city to consider a pilot program that would have the ditch managed by users.
Public works staff then proposed a revised policy and presented it to the city council on April 27.
With overwhelming support from water users, the council agreed to test the pilot program and review reports.
The pilot program allows the irrigation ditches to be under user operation. The guidelines allow residents to have one user or a ditch captain in charge of water distribution for the entire group.
Ditch users seemed to be in great support for this plan at the previous meetings.
The city then met with all users of ditches and captains were decided upon for each location.
After city staff and officials met with irrigators again, the city agreed to replace the locks to gates and fences around every ditch.
Each captain was given their own unique set of keys and locks for their head gate, with a signed agreement with the city regarding the locking of the gates.
Operations were turned over to each ditch captain on June 1.
The city has been managing the ditches under the revised policy since the beginning of May.
During the April 27 meeting, the Price city officials indicated that the pilot program could be attempted for a 30-day period or longer.
The officials explained that an evaluative meeting would be scheduled with the involved local residents at the end of the designated period to decide what is in the best interest of the water users and city.
Welch also addressed the possibility of compensating ditch captains, but it was decided that the possibility won't be discussed further until the end of the irrigation season.