This is a project
that helps on so many levels it's hard to keep track of them all. The North Side Canal Company has a drain they
call the "W" and it carries excess irrigation water from the last field on their system through the Malad
Gorge State Park where the drain ends in a waterfall to the bottom of the Malad Gorge where the water entered the
Malad River. From there, it is just a short, straight shot into the Snake River. The W Drain delivered the
water just this way for many years.
There was just one problem. The water wasn't clean. The water was loaded
with agricultural sediments and phosphates and nitrates and it was falling almost directly into the Snake River. The
Snake River has a sediment load that needs to be decreased, not increased. In short, the water from the W Drain
was not helping.
NRCS and other partners, the "What if..." talks began and the result of those talks and actions are now called the
W Drain Project. The water is now forms a pond in the Malad Gorge Park and will soon become a wetland and recreation
area, adding to the Park's appeal. The pond will regulate the flow of water as it enters - not a waterfall
of dirty water - but a 6,000 foot pipe that goes straight down the canyon rim and delivers it to three irrigators
below the rim. In return, the three irrigators below the rim will no longer be pumping clean water out of the ground
to irrigate their crops, but will be land applying water that then will slowly percolate through the soil profile before it
finally reaches its destination in a much cleaner state.
The benefits are spectacular:
1. Much cleaner water
enters the Snake River from the once dirty W drain.
2. Less drinking
water quality water is pumped from the ground for irrigation
Less electricity is used to irrigate three farms because the pipe is naturally pressurized from the fall from the rim.
4. The Malad Gorge State Park gets a water feature for park visitors.
The Gooding SCD would like to thank Steve Thompson, District Conservationist, for
his diligence, perseverance and dedication to this project.
arial shots were taken by Steve as he flew over the project area, both before the pond filled and after. In
a few short years, vegetation will change the entire look of the pond, and we will post that photo too.