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Lower Payette Ditch Diversion Dam

With old structure, crews waded into the water to install wooden diversion need to raise water levels.Nearly 500 farmers and ranchers depend upon the Lower Payette River canals to irrigate 13,600 acres.  For the past 85 years, a wood diversion dam had channeled water into the canals.  With age, the diversion dam had channeled water into the canals.  With age, the diversion dam began deteriorating, causing major problems for both dam workers and those dependent upon the canal's water.

The Lower Payette Ditch Company proposed replacement of the deteriorating structure with an automated inflatable rubber diversion dam -- or a bladder dam.  This project would conserve water; provide efficient water delivery; and offer operator safety, low maintenance, reliability, and adequate fish and recreational boater passage, without adversely affecting the environment.With new technology, inflation and deflation of bladder dam will now be computer-operated.

The cost of the project totaled $2.3 million.  NRCS provided $624,000 through a congressional appropriation through the Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Program.  The Ditch Company also received additional funds for Water District 65, and low-interest loans from the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the Soil Conservation Commission.

Construction crews completed the installation of the bladder dam this past November.  "With this new dam, the water delivery will be more efficient, ultimately leading to improved water quality," said Russ Manwaring, NRCS RC&D Coordinator.  According to Payette Ditch Manager Ken Mineard, it's all about safety.  "With the old structure, we almost lost a guy because his foot slipped while trying to repair the planks--the water pressure was unbelievable strong.  Now, the bladder dam is computer-operated.  From a safety standpoint, it can't be beat."