By Ann McCreary
After years of planning, going back to the drawing board, and making new plans, construction on a new delivery system for Methow Valley Irrigation District (MVID) will begin after the canal is turned off for the season on Wednesday (Oct. 1).
Work will begin on MVID’s canal on the east side of the Methow River, which will be transformed from an open canal to a piped system beginning at Mill Hill (near the Lloyd Industrial property) and extending about 5 miles south to Beaver Creek.
The east canal work is the first phase of MVID’s Instream Flow Improvement Project, which will enclose two open canals and end the district’s diversion of water from the Twisp River.
“I’ve been waiting about 12 years for this,” said Gregg Knott, project manager for the Instream Flow Improvement Project.
MVID members along the east canal route recently received a letter advising them that in preparation to begin the piping, crews would be clearing access to the canal easement, including removing trees and root wads and structures such as bridges, headboxes and gates within eight feet of the canal centerline.
All trees within 25 feet on either side of the canal centerline will also be removed, unless landowners clearly mark them and sign a liability waiver that relieves MVID of liability related to the trees.
The tree removal and waivers are required because once the ditches are enclosed, the water source for the trees will disappear and they will likely die — and potentially fall over — unless property owner water them, said Knott.
About 1,000 trees — mostly cottonwoods — will be removed along the length of the canal, he said.
The new pipe will be a gravity-pressurized system that supplies about 253 parcels east of the Methow River, including some lots within Twisp town limits.
A contract for that portion of the improvement project has been awarded to Tapani Underground Inc. of Battle Ground, Washington.
Requests for bids have been issued for another part of the project — drilling a well field this fall in an orchard behind Hank’s Harvest Foods.
Plans call for drilling four wells that will provide water for a pressurized pipe system that will replace part of MVID’s canal on the west side of the Methow River. Water for that canal comes from a diversion in the Twisp River, which has been the source of regulatory and legal battles for decades because of its impact on fish habitat.
Knott said MVID customers on the east canal will receive water through the new piped system next year. The west side canal will continue to operate through the next irrigation season while construction is underway.