The Problem(s) with Pipe

On or around April 8, 2023 there was the break in the newly installed Tumalo Irrigation District pipe. A field welded seam broke in the Taylor NW arm of the pipe that runs under the old Tumalo Reservoir Rd. just east of the intersection with Pinehurst Rd. The previous years piping dead ended there and was hooked into this year’s piping. Very near the time that new piping from this year was pressurized, there was a serious break that flooded the old reservoir and land to the south. The water ran unchecked for at least 2 days.

The leak was caused by a seam failure and had to be welded again. Experienced contractors who work with seam welding say these field-welded plastic pipes start leaking the minute they are put into service. This particular type of pipe is notorious for leaking.

It was reported that when TID did the repair for the seam failure, they had their shortest guy climb down into the pipe to dig a trail through 2 feet of silt so the crew could fit into the 6 ft pipe to do the repair.

Two weeks later it leaked again requiring another round of repairs.

Remember that this pipe has only been in the ground for 2 seasons. How much silt will be in the pipes in 10 years? A lot.

The problems with accumulation of silt were raised by the owner of Aspen Lakes Golf Course, Matt Cyrus, a few years back. He asked, what happens when the pipe fills with silt and in the meantime, we replace pumps and sprinkler heads? The silt wears down the pump impellers and the pump burns up. Many irrigators have replaced formerly new pumps after just 2 years.

A canal system is designed so that the water flows over the top of a gate or weir, taking the top layer of water after the silt had settled out. Any silt left behind in the ditch or gate is dug out easily in annual ditch maintenance. Removing silt from miles of buried pipe is way more difficult and expensive, it’s a “hidden” cost.

None of this maintenance expense was included in the Final EA where piping was portrayed as largely maintenance free. To get a better benefit/cost ratio and qualify for Federal grants, expenses are underestimated or ignored and passed to irrigators as “hidden” costs. This is unethical and violates the spirit and letter of the NEPA process which demands that all impacts be reasonably considered. Something Tumalo Irrigation, Arnold Irrigation and NRCS have failed to do.

Update (4/21/23): TID Allen Lateral is shut down again for another leak. This is the 3rd leak from the work that Taylor NW did 2 years ago.

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