CONSERVATION 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 www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/klamath/ 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 salmon.” 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.
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