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Dealing with an uncertain water supply in James Irrigation District




Hopkins, Joseph D., author
Ehlers, Brian E., author
Mallyon, John, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Based on the ongoing drought conditions and pumping restrictions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta), the James Irrigation District (District) made the decision to analyze their water resources to understand if the District could sustain its current agricultural practices without a Delta supply. The result of the analysis is that the District can continue to farm at its current capacity, but it will require changes to both District infrastructure and operations. Groundwater supplies can meet the overall demand of the District, but wells alone lack the instantaneous capacity to meet peak demand during summer months. Because of this, storage will be required to meet peak demands. Many options were developed and considered by the District. The final decision consisted of drilling additional wells, utilization of three large existing basins at the upstream end of the District for short-term storage, and system automation. Since the District does not rely on computerized controls, it is proposed that this design utilize simple robust structures, and minimal computerized automation, to provide a simple "automatic" control system to meet demands. Other than design and engineering, significant project issues consisting of environmental concerns, cultural resources, and funding have arisen. When completed, this project will provide for continued sustainable farming, remove the art of system control by implementing simple control systems in canal and reservoir modernization, and allow the District to provide the large amount of flexibility growers are accustomed to.


Presented at Irrigation district sustainability - strategies to meet the challenges: USCID irrigation district specialty conference held on June 3-6, 2009 in Reno, Nevada.

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