NMID says stay-at-home order is making for an “exceptionally bad” canal cleaning season

Posted at 2:16 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 16:16:24-04

BOISE, Idaho — Maintenance crews from the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District –- the Treasure Valley’s largest irrigation district --have begun work getting the District’s 500 miles of canals ready to receive water for the 2020 irrigation season.

The crews are using propane torches to burn weeds and other debris on the canal banks, to clear away vegetation that can affect the flow of water down the canals. Idaho law gives irrigation districts the right to maintain canals and banks, including the removal of brush and trees that may be growing on canal banks.

Compounding the maintenance program, though, are the grass, leaves, tree limbs and various other kinds of landscaping material and trash that residents routinely dump into the canal. Idaho water law prohibits dumping into canals, but water managers say NMID ditch riders regularly “see it all” along the NMID canal system, especially in residential areas.

“This year, the problem is exceptionally bad. I think people are home because of the stay-at-home order and the social distancing requirements and are working in their yards. We are seeing large piles of debris thrown into ditches after our crews have already burnt the area clean. That kind of dumping is going to cause us issues when we start running water beginning Wednesday,” said NMID Water Superintendent Greg Curtis.

Curtis noted that people with property adjacent to canals may be alarmed at first when they see clouds of smoke billowing from the canals and want to call the local fire department. “But our crews are highly experienced in this type of maintenance process and practice great caution to keep any burning well under control, so adjacent property is not threatened,” Curtis said.

NMID delivers irrigation water to approximately 69,000 acres of Treasure Valley agricultural and residential lands in Ada and Canyon Counties -- and supplies pressurized irrigation water to more than 17,000 individual parcels of land, including 493 subdivisions the Treasure Valley. 2020 marks the 116th consecutive year of water deliveries to the Treasure Valley by the irrigation district.

(Photo courtesy: NMID)