Farmer’s Conservation Alliance and Energy Trust of Oregon’s Irrigation Modernization Tour

Tour Date: Monday, July 22, 2019
Tour Time: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Max Number of Attendees: 30
Price: $130

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Tour Description:  In-conduit hydropower projects are experiencing a resurgence in the western U.S. as irrigation districts convert open canals used to transport water for agricultural use into piped, pressurized systems. Two Oregon-based non-profits, Farmers Conservation Alliance and Energy Trust of Oregon, are leading these efforts through a process they call Irrigation Modernization. The benefits go beyond hydropower and include water conservation, river restoration, agricultural resilience, rural economic development and even wildfire protection.

You’ll visit the beautiful Hood River valley, where some of the world’s finest apples and pears are produced using water delivered by two very different irrigation districts: East Fork and Farmers.

East Fork Irrigation District’s source water is diverted from a stream and flows into open, earthen canals. The canals move the water past local orchards where it is pumped out and applied to crops.

Farmers Irrigation District used to deliver water just like East Fork. But 30 years ago they built two in-conduit hydropower facilities and using the hydropower revenue to replace open canals with pressurized pipe. The pipe created a virtuous cycle: water that would have seeped into the ground or evaporated was passed through their hydro turbines, making more revenue, which enabled the district to install more pipe. The district now uses only 40% of the water they needed 30 years ago, which means they are more resilient to drought.

You’ll visit the diversions of both districts, where you will be able to see East Fork’s Obermeyer Weir and co-located fish ladder and compare and contrast it to Farmers’ solution, which incorporates their patented Farmers Fish Screen.

During lunch, you’ll hear from representatives from FCA and Energy Trust about how the Irrigation Modernization Program is helping districts to plan for the future of their infrastructure, as well as the scale of the associated hydropower opportunity across the west.

You’ll also visit Farmers Plant 2 hydropower facility, repowered in 2015 with a 3-MW Gilkes Turgo turbine to better manage the high silt load of their glacially fed water source. The powerhouse has also been fully retrofitted with new controls and PLCs.

Safety/Physical Requirements: All attendees must wear long pants and closed toe shoes. Attendees will be provided with all necessary safety equipment upon arrival. No backpacks will be allowed. Attendees will be required to climb stairs.