The Dolores Water Conservancy District has been approved for $4.1 million in funding from the Basin Power Fund to upgrade pumping stations that deliver water to local farmers.
DWCD operates and maintains McPhee dam and reservoir, canals, and the pressurized irrigation-delivery system with its seven pumping plants.
Automated pumping stations at Fairview, Pleasant View, Ruin Canyon, Cahone, and Dove Creek are all slated for upgrades, explained DWCD engineer Ken Curtis during a recent tour of the facilities.
“They are 25 years old and are ready for replacement,” he said.
The majority of funding for the project comes from revenues generated at the Glen Canyon dam hydroelectric power plant.
“The Basin Power funds are used to pay for new reservoir projects, but there are no more of those, so now it distributes the money for upgrades and maintenance of existing facilities,” Curtis said.
The Farview pumping plant, which feeds off of the Dove Creek canal, will be the first to undergo improvements, at a cost of $1.6 million.
Three variable-speed pumps and their 500-horsepower motors will be replaced, along with associated electronics and transformers after this farming season.
Six huge pumps at Fairview deliver pressurized irrigation water through underground pipelines to 8,000 acres of farmland southwest of Yellow Jacket.
The variable-speed pumps are essential to keep pipeline pressure constant for irrigation customers as demand levels fluctuate daily.
“They have more hours and more wear, so they get replaced first,” Curtis said. “It is $1 million just for the parts.”
The new pumps will last another 20 to 40 years, he said. The three old pumps will be saved and rebuilt for needs elsewhere on the Dolores Project irrigation system.
Installation of the Fairview upgrade is undergoing a bidding process with construction contractors.
After 2015, four more pumping stations will undergo rehabilitation during the off season at a cost of $2.5 million. New and rebuilt pumps, new motors, electronic controls, and plant equipment will be installed at Pleasant View, Ruin Canyon, Cahone, and Dove Creek pumping plants. A spare pump is included in the price, which costs $663,000.
DWCD contributed $464,000 to the project for engineering, contracting, design work and labor, bringing total project costs to $4.5 million.
“Our goal is to keep the Dolores Project maintained and running efficiently into the future,” Curtis said. “The Dolores Project is the most high-tech irrigation system in the country, delivering pressurized, metered water to 29,000 acres of commercial farmland, all on an automated computer system monitored from a control center.”