Applied Research on Improving the Management of Urban Encroachment on Reclamation Facilities, with Emphasis on Irrigation Districts

Project ID: 821
Principal Investigator: Thayne Coulter
Research Topic: Supporting Irrigation Districts
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004, 2005 and 2006
Keywords: None

Research Question

How to protect irrigation infrastructure and reduce district operating costs associated with urban encroachment through:

* Improved irrigation district administrative procedures and licensing agreements with local government

* Use of computer-enhanced information management systems to monitor and address urban encroachment

Need and Benefit

The key problem addressed by the proposed applied research is the increased threat to the integrity of irrigation districts' infrastructure and increased operating costs due to urban encroachment. There is growing disruption in water delivery due to this encroachment. Reclamation's mission is to ensure that water storage and delivery facilities developed through public expenditures will be safeguarded for future water users and food production needs. The Science and Technology (S&T) Program's mission is to conduct research that addresses problems faced by its primary water users that will help guide them to solutions to their problems.

The proposed research builds upon an established research initiative, one characterized by a strong focus on assisting irrigation districts. The Research and Development (R&D)3 Output Area (Water Supply [WS]5) was uniquely developed to support irrigation districts facing a growing population and changing social values. In the past several years, our research initiatives, with support from Colorado State University, have established close partnerships with districts throughout several Reclamation regions. This partnership continues to make the results of our research initiative extremely effective and timely. Area and regional offices routinely request our research output, most recently from the important Mid-Pacific (MP) regional office.

The research for fiscal years (FY) 2004 and 2005 built on the tradition we have established and expands our initiative geographically to serve all five Reclamation regions. It also brought to the S&T research program important applied research techniques. These are echniques not specifically designed to test a null hypothesis, but rather designed to identify problems, and then to work closely with districts to solve these problems on their own terms. In doing so, Reclamation's mission is served, and achieved, through a better understanding of how Reclamation policy can be crafted to better anticipate irrigation district needs. Urbanization is a recognized, Reclamation-wide problem that demands local action and interaction with our water user partners. It is where research funds need to be placed today.

This proposal gathers data, analyzes information, and provides solutions by providing tools that can be placed directly into the hands of those who need to take the action. The proposed research builds constructively upon the scoping/formulation research on urban encroachment (i.e., S&T's funding for County Land Use Impacts on Irrigation Districts in FY 2001 and 2002. This research defined and articulated the urban encroachment problem. Results of the research were disseminated to districts via pilot regional workshops (Great Plains [GP] and Upper Colorado [UC] regions) in FY 2001 and 2002.

This research project will consolidate and disseminate the lessons learned and expand the initiative geographically. This will include:

* Fifteen additional workshops

* A technological assessment of present computerized information management (CIM) needs in 50 districts

* Technical support to 10 less-wealthy districts to demonstrate the benefits of improved CIM technologies to address urban encroachment and associated administrative problems. Examples of emerging CIM needs include:

+ Improved monitoring of water use and land ownership changes

+ Tracking rights-of-way encroachment

+ Conducting risk assessment of canals and other infrastructure

+ Reducing potential sources of liability and public hazard associated with present-day facility management

+ Documenting locations of buried facilities and utility lines

+ Managing urban stormwater runoff

+ Ensuring adequate security levels for facilities.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact about research products related to this project.

Return to Research Projects

Last Updated: 4/4/17