By Ann McCreary
Plans to evaluate the capacity of a test well recently drilled by the Methow Valley Irrigation District (MVID) remained on hold this week due to the partial shutdown of the federal government.
The well was drilled during the last week of September, but a test pumping planned for early October was delayed because a Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist, who is serving as an adviser on the project, was furloughed.
“We’ve been on the phone all morning with the Bureau of Reclamation” trying to get the project moving again, said Gregg Knott, project manager for MVID’s Instream Flow Improvement Project. With federal government contacts off the job, this part of the project is stalled.
“We are in the design phase of our project and our designers are in the federal government,” Knott said. “We are waiting, like everybody else, for common sense to prevail.”
The budget for government operations is hung up in the House of Representatives, where Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has stalled its approval.
Plans call for the well, drilled in Dave Schulz’s orchard behind Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp, to pump water into a pressured pipe system that would irrigate properties on benches above Twisp and along the Twisp-Carlton Road.
MVID would first need to get a permit for a permanent well from the town of Twisp, which has a decade-long moratorium on drilling new wells. The Twisp Town Council allowed the test well to be drilled because the moratorium did not specifically address “test” wells.
The piped irrigation system is part of an $8.7 million project designed to end MVID’s diversion of water from the Twisp River and reduce impacts on endangered fish.