Piping Project Final Environmental Assessment
The Minnesota Canal and Reservoir Company of Paonia, Colorado is a private, non‐profit, mutually funded irrigation company that manages several miles of water conveyance ditches, canals, and reservoirs in Delta County, Colorado. One of the canals managed by the MCRC is the Minnesota Canal which diverts water from Minnesota Creek east of Paonia to irrigate agricultural lands west and southwest of the point of diversion. The MCRC has received a grant through the Bureau of Reclamation, in association with a Basinwide Salinity Control Program, aimed at reducing the amount of salt and selenium that reaches the Colorado River.
Over the course of the project (2011–2015), the MCRC plans to alter the initial 5.2 miles (mi.) (27,479 ft.) of the Minnesota Canal by replacing the earthen canal with pipe. The project also includes modifications to the diversion structure on Minnesota Creek. Water levels on Minnesota Creek would be controlled by replacing the existing stoplogs with an automated gate. A small portion of the concrete structure would be removed and reconfigured to incorporate a coanda screen. Diverted water would pass through this screen into the existing settling basin. At the end of this basin a concrete spill structure will be installed. This structure will incorporate a broad crested weir to measure flows and a spillway and slide gate to allow the user to adjust flows as necessary. Flows in excess of the desired flow would be returned to the creek through an existing bypass channel. In addition, the company has proposed the construction of an inverted siphon across Dry Gulch, which would effectively eliminate a 4,380‐ft.‐long section of the canal. This siphon would be buried along the sides of the gulch but would be exposed where the siphon crosses the creek. The exposed pipe will be composed of steel and located approximately 5 feet above the channel bottom. The existing spillway structure at Lucas Creek will also be replaced with similar structure that will incorporate a control gate to limit flows in the canal downstream of the project reach. The project area is east and southeast of Paonia from the canal’s point of diversion in the Minnesota Creek valley and onto Lamborn Mesa
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