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Midvale enjoying early water outlook, eyes Bull spillway

Feb 25, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Midvale Irrigation District is optimistic about water this year, users heard at the district's annual meeting this month. The organization is working on several projects and heard a report on the Bureau of Reclamation's plan to rebuild the Bull Lake Dam Spillway.

"If you strictly look at the indicators here today it's looking pretty good, and it's actually better than it was on Feb. 24, 2013," district manager Jon Howell said in an interview. "So we're optimistic, but you know things can change."

The district has not decided how much water to allocate this year, but the district's commissioners are to decide the amount by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

Jock Campbell was elected to be the commissioner from the district's fifth district. He was the only person nominated for the position and ran unopposed.

Storage in the district's reservoirs, Bull Lake and Pilot Butte reservoirs is higher than this time last year, Howell said, as is snowpack. April and May typically are the wettest months in Fremont County, though, so much will depend on precipitation later this spring.

Water delivery was sufficient in 2013, according to Howell.

"Last year was an adequate water year but not a great water year," he said. "I don't recall many water users last year who said they didn't have enough water, but they had to be efficient about it."

The district delivered 2.45 acre feet of water per acre in 2013, which was about 6 percent lower than its spring estimate of 2.6 acre feet and about 18 percent below the year's allotment of 3 acre feet per, according to the district's year-end report.

Total water delivered was 169,000 acre feet, slightly below the historical average, Howell said. Efficiency was up about 2 percent from the year before to almost 55 percent allowing the district to divert 49,000 less acre feet, according to the report.

Users at the Feb. 13 meeting heard a report from BuRec about its plan to replace a spillway on the Bull Lake dam.

Midvale is to foot part of the cost, but Howell sees it importance.

"We never like to have to spend money, but we want our dams to be safe," he said. "It's pretty much something that needs to be done."

Midvale would have to cover about $4 million of the $26 million project, according to BuRec plans. A contractor would build a new spillway and dismantle the old one. A spillway allows extra water to flow out of the reservoir when it gets dangerously full.

BuRec hopes to award a contract in September.

Midvale is working on several projects funded by the Wyoming Water Development Commission. One is to replace a cement lateral canal with a 36-inch wide PVC pipe. The total cost is $945,000 and is expected to be finished in time for irrigation this year.

The irrigation district also is considering taking over operation of a power plant at Pilot Butte Reservoir. Built in 1920, BuRec has run the plant but offered to turn it over to Midvale.

WWDC gave the district $150,000 to hire a consultant to study the issue.

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