Thursday, February 22, 2007

Water Money Flows

Water Money Flows
Funding Goes to Recovery Dam Project
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Robert Johnson, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, talks about a grant for a Solano Irrigation District dam project. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

The Solano Irrigation District, with the help of federal money, now has the funds necessary to construct a new drainage recovery dam at McCune Creek, east of Vacaville.

The district received a check for $70,000 Wednesday afternoon from Robert Johnson, commissioner of the United State Bureau of Reclamation.

"We're trying to get out ahead and avert the conflicts," Johnson said. "We are looking to develop solutions to problems before it becomes a crisis and before it becomes absolutely critical. The bureau is proud to be a part of that.'

The drainage recovery project will cost $150,000, which includes a new concrete canal lining upstream and downstream of the dam to replace an aging and deteriorating structure.

To be named Carrington Recovery Dam, it will be built on McCune Creek, just east of Lewis Road and North of Hawkins Road. The Creek begins in Winters and flows out through the Sacramento River delta, according to Jim Daniels, engineer planning manager for Solano Irrigation District.

The dam also will provide the district the opportunity to recover 500 acre feet per year of farm tail-water runoff and canal spill flows for re-use.

The new dam is part of Water 2025, a program developed three years ago aimed at preventing crises and conflict in the West.

At the heart of Water 2025 is the Challenge Grant Program, in which the Bureau of Reclamation provides 50/50 cost-share funding to irrigation and water districts and states for projects focused on water conservation, efficiency and water marketing, according to a press release.

Johnson explained that the Bureau of Reclamation chose to help fund the Carrington Recovery Dam project because it conserves water and there is a good collaboration between the interested parties, including the Solano County Water Agency and the Solano Water Advisory Commission.

"We had lots of competition," Johnson said, adding that more than 100 counties turned in proposals for funding and only 10 percent were chosen. "It fit the criteria we were looking for and its a great project."

Suzanne Butterfield, general manager of the Solano Irrigation District, said that the same collaboration was used to build the Monticello Dam that created Lake Berryessa 50 years ago.

"We all work together to maximize the water and the money," she said. "We work very well together."

Building of the new dam won't begin until the end of the irrigation season, around October, but is set to be finished as early as November, according to Roger Reynolds, an engineer with Summers Engineering in Hanford.

Robert Hansen, president of the Board of Directors for the Solano Irrigation District, who received the check at Wednesday's gathering, said he hoped the efforts they're making to conserve water now will benefit generations in the long term.

Kirk Rodgers, regional director of the Mid-Pacific Region Bureau of Reclamation, echoed Hansen.

"It's truly a project that keeps on saving."

Melissa Murphy can be reached

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