Water in the Chewuch Canal below Pearrygin Lake was shut off on Thursday evening (May 15), and expected to be flowing again by the end of the day on Friday, according to Chewuch Canal Company (CCC) President Roger Rowatt.
The ditch was turned off in order to fix a faulty valve where the “old system meets the new system,” Rowatt said. When it was discovered that “it took three of us to turn the handle,” Rowatt asked Selland Construction – the company that recently finished work on the CCC’s piping upgrades – to “add it to their punch list,” he said.
A giant valve stem that opens and closes the valve was “binding up,” making it nearly impossible to turn, said Selland foreman Miguel Cervantes. His team worked on Friday to retool the existing valve stem, and expected to reinstall it and test it before turning the water back on.
If the fix is deemed inadequate, a replacement valve stem will be ordered and installed, necessitating another ½ day ditch shutoff “in the future,” Rowatt said.
“We only open and close that valve a couple times a year, but it needs to be turnable,” said Rowatt.
Selland Construction of Wenatchee began work on a $1.5 million project last fall that upgraded the complicated plumbing that fills and drains Pearrygin Lake, the CCC’s reservoir, and finished piping the canal below the lake.
Irrigation water is now delivered to most of the company’s 170 shareholders via a pressurized pipe.
“There’s a lot of pressure in that pipe,” water master Alan Parker said. “It’s hard to say exactly, but the further the fall from the lake, the higher the pressure.” Parker estimates that at his property on Perry Street in Winthrop – about halfway along the line – irrigation water leaves the pipe at 40 pounds per square inch.
There are four shutoff valves along the pipe to enable working in areas without shutting off the whole system, Parker said.
It takes about six hours to fill and repressurize the empty line. Breather tubes, located about every ½ mile, allow air to exit the line as pressure builds. Rowatt and Parker would take the opportunity to replace some of the breather valves while the pipe was empty on Friday, Rowatt said.