A Preston area irrigation company has finished laying a series of underground irrigation pipes to replace what were once above-ground canals.
In addition, the Consolidated Irrigation Company said it will complete work on a new hydropower plant next month.
“All the water goes through a hydro turbine and it generates power,” said Lyle Porter, president of Consolidated, which serves about 500 farmers.
Porter said the electricity can then be sold to offset the $3.5 million cost of the irrigation project. They’re paying for it with a 20-year loan, but hope the power plant will allow them to come out even.
Underground irrigation canals are nothing new in Franklin County. Many of the canals that bring water to farms from one of four area reservoirs are already underground.
What’s different now is that the canals that bring water from nearby Mink Creek and Cub River to stock the reservoirs will also be underground, which Porter said will help conserve water.
“It percolates under the soil continually. It also evaporates cause it’s in the open air,” said Porter.
Porter said the project stands to save 25 percent of water on average, something the Idaho Water Board said is critical at this time.
“One of the most important things we need to do for Idaho’s future water use is to make sure we have enough,” said Roger Chase, who serves on the board.
The water board recently approved $10.5 million worth of projects to help recharge water levels in aquifers along the Snake River Plain.