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Board approves $4.3 million loan for North Fremont Canal System upgrade

Pipeline project aims to conserve 2,400 acre-feet of irrigation water lost to seepage and evaporation.

By Brad Carlson

Published on October 25, 2018 10:09AM

Work continues on efficiency and safety improvements to the North Fremont Canal System in Fremont County, Idaho.

Idaho Water Resource Board

Work continues on efficiency and safety improvements to the North Fremont Canal System in Fremont County, Idaho.

Work continues on efficiency and safety improvements to the North Fremont Canal System in Fremont County, Idaho.

Idaho Water Resource Board

Work continues on efficiency and safety improvements to the North Fremont Canal System in Fremont County, Idaho.


Capital Press

The Idaho Water Resource Board on an Oct. 23 conference call approved a 20-year, $4.3 million loan to North Fremont Canal System for a phase of the Marysville gravity-pressurized irrigation pipeline project northeast of Idaho Falls.

The phase involves building a new diversion structure and converting 17.8 miles of open canal to 16 miles of gravity-pressurized pipeline to serve participating irrigators across about 2,784 acres of farmland in Fremont County, the board said in a release. It aims to conserve 2,400 acre-feet of irrigation water lost to seepage and evaporation, increase public safety by removing open canals, and save about 1,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity by removing pumping facilities.

North Fremont Canal System President Sean Maupin said about 40 large pumps will be phased out. “You can spend $7,000 to $8,000 just to start up those pumps,” he said.

Power savings are expected to cover most of the increased per-acre assessment that participating farmers will pay to cover the loan cost, and the project will not cause the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer to lose water, he said.

Board staff member Rick Collingwood said the pipeline project’s efficiency will “improve delivery of water to shareholders so they can receive their full allocation of water during the peak period of the irrigation season.”

The pipeline also will eliminate what has been a potential safety hazard, the open canal running through Ashton and bordering a part of an elementary school property. The board said the project also is expected to improve water quality by eliminating irrigation return flows to Henry’s Fork of the Snake River, reduce noxious weeds in open canals, and improve seasonal air quality by eliminating the need to burn vegetation along canal and ditch systems.

The $11.1 million project phase also is funded by a $6.8 million grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Construction is expected to start later this fall and conclude for the spring 2019 crop season.

Before the state board approved the new loan of $4.3 million, North Fremont Canal System had a loan balance of $1.6 million, having accelerated loan payments at times to reduce interest, a board official said. The board earlier approved loans, for project phases, of $2.5 million in 2013, $1.1 million in 2008 and $625,000 in 2007. The current phase is the most extensive, and another phase is expected in three to five years.



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