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Methow Valley Irrigation Gets Overhaul For Fish

Benjamin Cody
Own Work

Construction begins this week on a state project in the Methow Valley that will give fish a boost of cold, clean water in rivers near Twisp, Washington.

The state and a trout conservation group are pouring about $10 million into a whole new irrigation system there.

Back in 2011, the Methow Valley Irrigation District was fined more than $30,000 for its old, leaky irrigation system. The state determined it was wasting water through too much seepage in its open canals.

Now the state and the group Trout Unlimited are working together to pipe most of the irrigation district. That’s about 14 miles of pressurized lines. The new system is supposed to be more efficient and not allow as much leakage or evaporation.

That would put nearly 7,000 gallons-per-minute of water back in the Methow and Twisp rivers. That aids fish like the: Endangered Spring-run Chinook and the threatened Upper Columbia River Steelhead and Columbia River Bull Trout.

The project will also spur some temporary construction jobs for the area that has been hard hit by the Carlton Complex wildfires and huge mudflows. It should wrap up by spring 2016.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.