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April 20, 2010 3:58 am

Canal water's on

Written by Tribune Staff

Shoshone Irrigation releases water Sunday for delivery to users this week

Lacking in drama, but auspicious just the same, the Shoshone Irrigation District turned the irrigation water on Sunday morning.

It's a drawn-out process: It took around 12 hours to make it to the end of the line that day.
Shoshone water likely will be delivered to users by mid-week.

Heart Mountain and Willwood irrigation districts opened up April 12, said Bryant Startin, Shoshone Irrigation District manager.

Willwood began delivery to its users last week, and Heart Mountain will begin delivery Friday or Saturday.

It might have seemed dull at around 8 a.m., Sunday, when Shoshone District ditch rider Don Eden cranked up an ancient, fume-belching engine to raise one of the two gates at the Corbett Tunnel.

But, in reality, it was a momentous occasion, since the flowing Garland Canal signals to farmers and urbanites alike that spring is here, and soon fields and yards will be transformed to verdancy.

As the gate climbed, the water emitted a gurgling sound like a drain inhaling the discharge from a giant sink of green water. Burbling down, the speeding water created whirlpools, spinning and spinning like waterlogged toy tops.

Water was gushing over the Corbett Dam, but all remained tranquil.

Just above the barrier, two geese remained stationary as though they dropped anchors to fish, and on a grassy bank, two sandhill cranes sashayed about and called stridently, like motor-mouths craving the sound of their own voices.

At Iron Creek — Garland Canal's geographical start — an hour or so later, the water resembled a small pond on the still, beautiful morning.

A few miles down the line, where Buck Springs slips under the canal, the water looked like an emerald ribbon — smooth as glass.

“It's making good time,” said Eden.

Later, below Ralston Reservoir, about 8 inches of water rushed and then tumbled over a gate like a mountain stream tripping across stones.

By around 4:30 p.m., the water was at the Garland gate, being routed to both Deaver and Powell.

In the summer, the canal will run around 875 cubic feet per second. At the gate, 265 cfs will be diverted to Deaver Irrigation District with the Shoshone District getting the rest, Startin said.

The water crashed over the gate like a waterfall, roaring in a mountain gorge.

Then, the water's progress seemed to slow in the deep drop structure, as though catching its breath for its final push to Powell.

Like shiny, green molasses, it eased forward, creating an ever-lengthening puddle. Slow but sure, the water level rose and rose on its forward trek in the canal.

Soon, farmers will be irrigating fields, and crops will sprout like green stubble on a tan face.

Startin is eager to embark on another irrigation season and to witness the greening of the Powell area.

“It think it's great when the water comes,” Startin said. “That's what we're in the business for.”

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