OUR WATER: 56 miles of canals carry life to local farms

Water

Farmers hoping for more rain soon as canals do not run year round

SAN ANGELO, TX – If you have ever wondered what the miles and miles of dirt and concrete canals throughout Tom Green County are for, they’re used by area farmers for crop irrigation, and are fed by the Twin Buttes Reservoir and San Angelo’s wastewater treatment plant.

“[The water] runs out into 56 miles of irrigation canal,” explains Bruce Gully, the board president for Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District 1. “That allows our local farmers in Wall, Veribest and Mereta to irrigate their cotton, grain sorghum, corn, or wheat. [The canal system] makes quite a beneficial impact.”

The reason area farmers can use this water is because of water rights dating back to 1963 when Twin Buttes Reservoir was finished. “That’s one of the reasons why Twin Buttes was built — was an irrigation component,” elaborated Allison Strube, the San Angelo Water Utility Director. “The [water] rights date back to that time.

The most current water agreement between the city of San Angelo and the county district dates back to 1997. “Several contracts or amendments have been made throughout the course of time since Twin Buttes was built,” Strube continued, “one of those being that the irrigation district take our effluent water from city of San Angelo for the irrigation of crops.”

Thanks to the abundant rain in late 2018 and early 2019, water is flowing through the irrigation canals at a rate of about one hundred cubic feet-per-second (44.8 thousand gallons per minute, 198.3 acre-feet per day). The window of opportunity that farmers can rely on the canals will be closing soon — so water is stored in artificial lagoons for a portion of the year to be utilized later.

“We were very fortunate to have welcome rains in the springtime and winter bringing Twin Buttes to over 75% full,” said Gully. “Right now we’re irrigating out of Twin Buttes and effluent from San Angelo’s water treatment plant.”

Gully said the district is very thankful for San Angelo working with them on irrigation solutions, and more rain is always welcome in the arid West Texas climate.

Water outlet from Twin Buttes to the canal system. PHOTO © 2019

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