Canal companies ask for repair help

BLACKFOOT — Canal company representatives met with Bingham County commissioners Wednesday to ask if there is money available to help repair the banks and the headgates of the various canals.
Representatives from Parsons, United, Lavaside, People's, Watson and Blackfoot Irrigation canal companies attended this meeting.
"There is damage to the main gates, the trees have piled up and the river is still running above normal," said one irrigator.
Claudon Lilya from the People's Canal said, "Right now, the reservoirs are full.
"Palisades has 4 million acre feet of water," Lilya said. "About 2 million acre feet must come down."
"The river is not going to be running lower," said Craig Rowland, Director of Bingham County Emergency Management Services. "High flows are expected all winter long. Ice floes could be a problem."
"The Corps [of Engineers] did a lot of work in preparation for possible flooding," Rowland said. "The difference between '97 (when it flooded) and this year is we are not under a Presidential declaration; we're under a state declaration."
Commissioner Cleone Jolley asked the representatives of the canal companies to get an estimate of the repair costs from all irrigation companies that could be presented with the request for funding.
Rowland was asked to look into possible funding from the state, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and/or Homeland Security.
Gophers and the damage they do to canal banks and roadways were also discussed.
The county has a $1 bounty on gophers, Rowland said. "The county paid out $11,000 last year."
Alan Degiulio, board member of the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company, said, "Aberdeen-Springfield worked very hard year to protect our own this year."
The Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps work hard to strike a balance between dropping water that might cause flooding and not releasing enough water in case of drought, he said.
"It's been a great year," said Degiulio.
He went on to explain that Aberdeen-Springfield could use funds for repairs if funds are made available.

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