Work Begins on Water Quality Protection Project
The Farmers’ Co-operative Ditch Company of Parma is breaking new ground in northwest Canyon County as work gets underway on an 8.8-acre sediment basin designed to remove 2,000 tons of sediment from the water in the canal. When completed, canal water will be diverted into the sediment basin and travel a sinuous 2,000 ft before returning to the canal for delivery to producers. Many Farmers’ Co-op shareholders currently receive water with large amounts of sediment that damages pumps, clogs irrigation systems and accumulates in concrete ditches.
After irrigating crops, the water drains to either the Boise River or the Snake River depending on the location of the farm. Water quality in both rivers is impaired by excess sediment and nutrients. Federal plans are in place to bring the rivers into compliance with water quality standards that protect the aquatic ecosystem and recreational river users. Agricultural compliance with the plans is voluntary, and public/private cost-sharing projects like this one are critical to implement needed improvements.
Farmer’s Co-operative Ditch near Parma Site of the sediment basin
The project is the first sediment basin developed and managed by an irrigation delivery entity in the Lower Boise River watershed. The Farmer’s Co-op is leasing the land for the sediment basin and providing staff and shareholder support. $500,000 from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program will help build the sediment basin and also provide matching funds for Farmers’ Co-op shareholders that install on-farm conservation practices to reduce water usage and improve soil health. Project Fact Sheet.
This ambitious project aligns perfectly with recommendations in the Boise River Enhancement Network’s Boise River Enhancement Plan. On-site enhancement, like the on-farm best management practices that will be implemented through the project, is recognized as the best way to improve water quality. Conversion to sprinkler or drip irrigation and precise application of fertilizer are two BMPs that improve water quality. Construction of sediment basins is also recommended as an effective way to reduce sediment and nutrients entering the river.
Project partners include the USDA-NRCS, Lower Boise Watershed Council, and Canyon Soil Conservation District.
Photos by Bob Braun and Lori Kent
Directors of the Farmers’ Co-operative Ditch Company, Canyon Soil Conservation District, and Lower Boise Watershed Council celebrate the groundbreaking on April 6, 2018 along with staff of NRCS.