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Canal concrete lining project in El Paso helps farmers conserve water Posted on May 08, 2024


Bobby Skov – Agricultural Producer, SK2 Farms

I'm a fourth generation farmer here in the El Paso Valley. We grow cotton, and we grow pecans. Our valley is really unique in the variety of crops that we can grow. Over my history, we've grown everything from onions, garlic, chili, jalapeños, parsley, cilantro, you name it. 

Ramon Tirres – Agricultural Producer, Tirres Farm

I grow Pima cotton, which is my main crop. I got into the pecan business about 14 years ago. Alfalfa also—not consistently because the water's not always, you know‚ lately it's been kind of in short supply. Some years, good. Some years, poor.

Water conservation is a, it's a big issue to all the farmers around here, myself included. And cement lining is one of the best because water will get from point A to point B quickly instead of having to recharge the water table.

Bobby Skov – Agricultural Producer, SK2 Farms 

Water is a precious resource and it's life. Without it, we don't exist here. We are not able to do what I've done for, my family’s done, for four generations here, without that water. So, our water is under a greater demand as the populations grow. And one of the ways that we can help meet some of those demands is to be more efficient with what we have. And concrete lining is one of the ways that that brings about great amounts of conservation.

Jackie Buck – Agricultural Water Conservation Data Analyst, Texas Water Development Board

Texas has a network of irrigation canals throughout the state, and this helps get water from the canals and the rivers to the farmers. A lot of these canals are dirt and earth-lined, which can lead to water loss in the system, getting the water to one place from the other. So, this project is focusing on turning that earth-lined ditch into a concrete-lined ditch, which helps reduce seepage loss in the transportation of that water.

Jay Ornelas – General Manager, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1

Our district is comprised of 69,010 irrigable acres. And all of our acreage is gravity-fed through canals and laterals. And this feeder is approximately 2 miles, 2.5 miles, and it feeds our Franklin Canal. Our Franklin Canal is our main artery that starts in downtown El Paso and it ends in Fabens. 

Now, with this project afforded to us by the Texas Water Development Board, we have completed the concrete lining on the entire Franklin Canal feeder. We try to be as efficient as possible, save all the water we can, so we can provide all that water to where it needs to be in the farms. So, the more efficient we are and with the lining, you know, there's no seepage losses, and it gets there faster than through an earthen canal.

Jackie Buck – Agricultural Water Conservation Data Analyst, Texas Water Development Board

So, the Texas Water Development Board was able to help fund this project through our Ag Water Conservation Grant program. And it's been really great for them because it takes the cost burden off those irrigation districts that can have trouble coming up with funds for a project like that, of that size.

We have about $1.5 million available each year for political subdivisions like irrigation districts. So, if there is a district that's interested in getting help for improving their canal, definitely reach out to us. You know, there are a lot of smaller irrigation districts that don't necessarily have the funds to make these types of improvements.

So, it's really great to be able to see the smaller districts get some help and also see the farmers get the return on the water that they need, especially in areas like El Paso where, you know, they're only really getting 8 inches of rain a year. And we've had a historic drought on the Rio Grande. So, it'll be a really great project in the long run, so that way they can start helping with their water and saving some of that water loss.

This article is posted in Water Planning / Drought / Water Supply .