The Bureau of Reclamation reports that two projects in the Crawford area are reducing salinity and improving water quality in the Colorado River Basin by reducing salt loading into the river.

The Crawford Clipper Center Lateral Pipeline Project will replace approximately 4.3 miles of open irrigation ditch with buried pipe, and the Gould Canal Improvement Project will convert 12.4 miles of the canal to pipeline and geomembrane lining. These improvements will reduce seepage along the canals, enhancing water supply and improving water quality by preventing approximately 8,303 tons of salt per year from entering the Colorado River.

Piping and lining of the projects are tentatively scheduled to begin this month.

The purpose of the projects is to prevent seepage and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin. Naturally-occurring salts in the sediment along the canals are picked up by water leaching from the earthen ditches and entering the Colorado River system. The resulting reduction in water quality creates a negative economic impact to downstream infrastructure and crops.

“Reducing salt along the Clipper Center Lateral and the Gould Canal will help improve the water quality, crop production and wildlife habitat in the Colorado River Basin,” said Ed Warner, area manager for Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office, in a press release.

Copies of the final Findings of No Significant Impacts and Environmental Assessments on the projects are available at usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html or by contacting Reclamation. Historical and photographic documentation on the canals is available at usbr.gov/uc/wcao/rm/cr/index.html.

Ground broke last January on the approximately $4.6 million Fire Mountain Canal Improvement Project to replace roughly four miles of open canal on Rogers Mesa with buried pipeline. Spearheaded by the Colorado River District, project cost is estimated at approximately $4.6 million. The Bureau of Reclamation will provide about $3 million for salinity control. The project will prevent an estimated 2,365 tons of salt per year from entering into the Colorado River Basin.

The roughly 34-mile-long Fire Mountain Canal winds from Somerset to the east end of Rogers Mesa, providing irrigation water to almost 15,000 acres of farm and ranch land. An umbrella project of the Lower Gunnison Project, it is intended to modernize agricultural water management, conserve irrigation water, increase delivery efficiency and agricultural productivity, lower maintenance costs, and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin.

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation’s second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit the website at usbr.gov and follow on Twitter @USBR.

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