Irrigators, county commissioners make flood plans

BLACKFOOT — Preparations for possible flooding was the agenda item for representatives of four irrigation companies as they met with the Bingham County commissioners on Tuesday.
"Most of the canals are in better shape than we were in 1997," said C. Paul Robertson of the Parsons Ditch Company. "In '97, that was a nervous two weeks."
The last major flood came through this part of the state most recently in 1997.
The Parsons Ditch Company is the last irrigation canal in Bingham County, just before American Falls.
Robertson said the Aberdeen Springfield Canal could hold an additional eight inches of water.
United, Blackfoot Canal, Watson Slaugh and Parsons Ditch Company were the irrigation canal companies represented at the meeting.
"We want to be in line to be helped if the flood washes away the diversion dams," said Robertson. "We will need help repair the coffer dams when the river goes down."
Diversion dams and coffer dams are boulders built in the river to divert water into the irrigation canals.
Ron Ellis from United Canal said the greenbelt walking path at Jensen Grove is built one foot above the water level.
"If the water raises another foot, possibly the county can come in and cut it," Ellis said.
After some discussion, it was suggested a dip eventually be built into the walkway to allow water to flow back into the river.
Since irrigation companies are private entities, Bingham County commissioner Ladd Carter questioned how much help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would give them.
The county is better able to handle any flooding because of all the preparation that has been done, commission chairman
Cleone Jolley said. "In '97, we were behind in preparations for the flooding; now we are ahead of it."