Conservation in the Klamath Basin Bob Smiley by NRCS


                                     IN THE KLAMATH BASIN
                                                                                                    August 2005
“It used to take an hour
and a half for water to
get to the fields. Now it
doesn’t take 15 minutes.
I can also get water to the
fields six weeks earlier.”
      — Bob Smiley

                                     Bob Smiley (left) and NRCS engineer Tom Benson view former diversion dam site.

                                     EQIP Funded Pipeline Keeps
                                     Klamath Basin Rancher Smiling
                                     Bob Smiley, a Siskiyou County rancher, is all smiles this summer.
                                     A new pipeline, funded through the Environmental Quality Incentive
                                     Program (EQIP), has replaced the gravel push-up diversion dam and
                                     leaky ditch irrigation system that he had used for years, saving him a
                                     lot of time and effort while also saving a tremendous amount of water.

                                     Last fall, Smiley started working with NRCS and the California
                                     Department of Fish and Game to install the pipeline on Cottonwood
                                     Creek. “It’s a win-win project for everyone,” said former District
“The new irrigation
                                     Conservationist Bill Gardiner as the project got underway. “This is a
system is saving water               good example of what our Local Working Group hopes to accomplish
at a rate of 4,500 gallons           with our EQIP dollars.”
per minute... The project
                                     Ron Presley, California Fish and Game Warden, had approached
should greatly benefit                NRCS and Smiley with the idea of developing an irrigation system
steelhead and salmon.”               design to allow upstream migration of fall salmon. “Cottonwood Creek
                                     has a high-quality water supply and supports all three of our targeted
      —Tom Benson                    fish species,” Presley said.

                                     Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District Manager Richard
For more information:                Christie told Smiley about NRCS’s EQIP. The program fit Smiley’s
                                     goals well. Through EQIP, Smiley was able to replace his gravel dam

                                               NRCS is an equal opportunity employer and provider.
and leaky ditch system along Cottonwood Creek
with 2,400 feet of 21-inch PVC pipe.                      “There are other benefits,” said Smiley. “It used to
                                                          take an hour and a half for water to get to the fields.
Designed and engineered by NRCS, the pipeline             Now it doesn’t take 15 minutes. I can also get water
carries irrigation water from the creek to the fields      to the fields six weeks earlier. Since I don’t need to
without the leakage of the old system, resulting in       build the dam in the spring, I can catch the snow melt
more water for the fields and more water in-stream         early.”
for fish. A fish screen keeps fish out of the pipeline.
Funds from the California Department of Fish              Smiley is so pleased that he has signed up for a new
and Game were used to rebuild an existing fish             EQIP project that will replace additional ditches on
ladder at the diversion dam where the water enters        the ranch with 4,500 feet of pipe. While waiting for
Smiley’s pipeline.                                        funding, he is so enthused by the success of the first
                                                          EQIP project that he is already installing a half mile
Civil Engineer Tom Benson said that the new               of pipe on his own.
irrigation system is saving water at a rate of 4,500
gallons per minute. “Saved water is going directly
into the Klamath River,” Benson said. “The water
savings is significant because this is the last
diversion on Cottonwood Creek before the river.
The project should greatly benefit steelhead and

Smiley said that the pipeline allows him to irrigate
with more control and flexibility then ever before
and to receive his full diverted flow. He can easily
turn water back to the stream if he’s not using it all,
during a wet spring or while haying for example.
“This benefits fish and improves the bottom line,”
Smiley said.
                                                          Now Smiley gets all of his irrigation water at a fish-friendly
                                                          diversion dam (above) down stream from the gravel
                                                          barrier diversion site. Combining his permitted flows at
                                                          the pipeline diversion (below left) allowed him to abandon
                                                          the inefficient gravel barrier and ditch system.

Cottonwood Creek attracts returning fish if upstream
flows in the Klamath mainstem are not adequate.
Juvenile salmon rear here in spring and steelhead use
the stream for all stages of growth and development
when flows are sufficient.

                     NRCS designed the irrigation system
                     to save water and provided technical
                     assistance on the project. Replacement
                     of the leaky ditches (left) with buried
                     pipe (right) is saving Smiley time and
                     money while leaving a lot more water in
                                                                                     “I thought I might as well get
                     the creek to benefit fish.
                                                                                     started,” said Smiley as he
                                                                                     began installing an additional
                                                                                     half-mile of pipeline.

To top