Franklin County farmers waiting out a rough water year

Cousins Taeg and Bridger Christensen have fun ion Gendale Reservoir that serves the Consolidated Canal Company shareholders in Franklin County.

PRESTON – Franklin County farmers knew water was going to be in short supply for this year’s crops so they made some adjustments to what they were growing. They are trying to survive one of the worst droughts in their lifetime. Although there is water now in the reservoirs from now to the end of the season, it will be going fast from here on out.

Joshua Williams is the gate keeper of Glendale Reservoir and charges fees for Consolidated Canal Company. The former U.S. Marine lives in the tiny trailer at the edge of the reservoir.

Lyle Porter, president of the Consolidated Canal Company, said the drought has had quite an effect on shareholders.

“We filled of all of our reservoirs with stream flows of 30 to 40 percent of normal,” he said. “The stream flows are lower than anyone can remember.”

The canal company reduced their water allocations by nine percent and hope they will be able to meet those allocations, but they doubt there will be much water left.

“As it got hotter people have just started to use more water,” he said. “I think people planted less corn and they should get a third crop but not a fourth crop.”

Farmers planted crops that would take less water due to the current water situation.

The drought is real and it is pretty significant,” Porter added. “We encourage our people not to over water.”

Even last winter the stream flows were low. The year-to-date moisture level is in the 60 percent range.

“Glendale Reservoir should be dropping fairly rapidly now,” Porter said. “I don’t know that we have ever had 100-degree days in June. It’s made the drought worst.”

The drought may not be over but they are hoping for the best.

Elsie McLean paddle boards Glendale Reservoir for a family reunion. Glendale Reservoir serves farmers in the Consolidated Water District.

“Consolidated Canal Company put our water in pipelines. It saved water from seepage and evaporation,” he said. “Even with the pipes in the ground we had to curtail quite a bit of water to shareholders.”

Hank Povey, Chairman of the Twin Lakes Canal Company, said some of their shareholders left some ground idle, or fallow, and others saved their shares until they needed it for some of their crops.

Water for Twin Lakes Canal Company comes from Mink Creek approximately 30 miles to the east. The water is piped and goes through open canals to get to the reservoirs.

I’ve got some of our guys already out of water,” he said. “We did allocate a little more water recently and they used it and were out again.”

The water levels are down but they should have about 1,000-acre feet in both reservoirs at the end of the season.

Twin Lakes Canal Company Chairman stands by one of the original pumps with his grandson Krick Skinner. The pump was installed in 1910’s and is still pumping water today.

There are also two reservoirs in their system – Winder and Conde – that can both be used until all the water is gone.

“On a good year we usually allocate 2.0-acre feet of water,” he said. “This year stockholders got .92-acre-feet of water. Less than half of what they usually get.”

A lot of the farmers didn’t have enough shares of water to plant corn or other crops that take lots of water, so they planted something different.

“It is always a concern when it is so dry in the fall and again in the spring,” Povey said. “Any runoff went into the ground. Unless we get some good fall moisture that soaks things down and some good snow pack this winter, I’m nervous what next year will bring.”

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