Farmers Conservation Alliance irrigation program recognized
Energy Trust, FCA receive state Clean Energy Leadership award
Energy Trust of Oregon and Farmers Conservation Alliance (FCA) announced last month that their Irrigation Modernization Program received the 2016 State Leadership in Clean Energy Award given by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA).
It’s been a while since we posted news on our blog. We’ve been busy building a new Irrigation Modernization program. The Irrigation Modernization program is connecting irrigation districts and farmers with the tools they need to invest in modern irrigation infrastructure. The pilot is now underway with 13 irrigation districts in the state of Oregon.
In theory, the Farmers Screen was born 1996 when the Farmers Irrigation District (FID) of Hood River, Oregon lost its irrigation infrastructure due to a severe flood event on the Hood River. Left without a way to deliver water to their farmers or generate revenue with their hydroelectricity plants, and seeking a solution to the problems they had with their previous fish screens, FID staff began brainstorming ways to restore their district.
Intrigued by the concept of horizontal fish screens, the irrigation district went to state agencies, nonprofits, and tribes and asked for their support in developing a new type of fish screen. After ten years of research and testing, FID created the Farmers Screen, a self-cleaning, horizontal screen that protects fish and manages debris.
Then, in 2006, another irrigation district in the Hood River Valley experienced a similar catastrophic flood and debris slide on their Eliot Creek diversion in the upper Hood River Valley. The Middle Fork Irrigation District (MFID), located south of FID with diversions at higher elevations on the north slope of Mt. Hood, also struggles with sediment management and screening for their irrigation water system and hydroelectric power plants. The MFID replaced their destroyed penstock, head gate and fish screen with a dual Farmers Screen in 2007 and later, in 2009, installed their second Farmers Screen on their nearby Coe Creek intake. Click to view complete project information and galleries of the Eliot Creek Farmers Screen and the Coe Creek Farmers Screen.
Here are a few pictures of the BEFORE pictures, of the 2006 flood and debris field landslide event:
Last month, while on a trip out to Missoula, I stopped by the Sixmile Creek Farmers Screen, which was installed in 2011. As project manager for FCA, I like to check on projects at least once a year. This diversion is just 10 minutes off the highway which makes it an easy side trip.
This year was the screen’s third full season of operation. I can always tell by the amount of vegetation growing around a screen if it’s had a successful year — trampled vegetation means lots of foot traffic, which means a lot of screen maintenance. As you can see here, the area around the screen looks kind of overgrown – that’s a good thing.
I was also impressed by how well the screen is holding up to the elements. The screen material itself is stainless steel, but the body of the screen is a mild steel sheet metal. This project was installed on a very tight budget and, in an effort to save money, our client Trout Unlimited decided to forgo painting the screen. Over time, surface rust will develop so we’ve been monitoring the effects of not painting the screen on this installation. I was impressed to see that this year it really didn’t look any different from last year.
I didn’t take any flow measurements while on site like I usually do, but it looked to me like there was an adequate amount of screened water running for this late in the season. Sometimes, when a fish screen looks like it hasn’t been visited in a long time, it means bad things for how it’s actually being operated. Our first priority at FCA is to ensure that the Farmers Screen is the right screen technology for any diversion. I’ve seen too many fish screens that were poorly suited to conditions at their site, and then simply abandoned because water user gave up in frustration trying to keep up with maintenance. It’s great to see how well our site vetting process works. This is the happiest little screen in Montana!
Well … except for the two other FCA Farmers Screens in Montana!
FCA was excited to be a small part of this year’s Hood River Salmon Days – an educational field trip experience for 4th and 5th graders from Parkdale Elementary and Mid-Valley Elementary schools here in the Hood River Valley. Funded by Bonneville Power Administration and developed by the staff of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, this day-long educational program introduces students to the challenges facing salmon in our watershed, including passage. FCA’s working scale-model of a Farmers Screen installation was on view at Middle Fork Irrigation District’s hydro plant and became an engaging part of the tour.
Many thanks to MFID, BPA, and especially the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs for creating this wonderful, informative, and crucially important educational experience for our kids!
Thanks and kudos to Catch, Snap & Release for this cool video of a Nevada Department of Wildlife fish salvage using team electroshock and netting process to collect the fish for transport out of “The Wrong Water.” FCA had the chance to help out with a fish salvage using this method in the Hood River watershed a couple of years ago. It was rewarding, wet work, but it was great to get the fish out of the ditch and back to the stream where they belong. This video provides a great example of why we do what we do. Fish screens keep these guys out of those canals in the first place.