For Reclamation, water use and small hydropower go hand in hand

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation recently announced it had selected 43 projects to receive a total of $20.9 million for water delivery efficiency improvements. What is perhaps most heartening for the hydro industry is that of the 43 projects selected, eight involve hydroelectric generation.

The money is being given as part of the WaterSMART project, which aims to improve water conservation and sustainability, helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. Reclamation says that when leveraged with non-federal funding sources, these projects will complete more than $101 million in improvements.

The eight projects chosen that involve hydropower, in order by the amount of money awarded, are:

Browns Valley Irrigation District, Tennessee Ditch Canal Modernization and Hydroelectric Project

The irrigation district in Yuba County, Calif., will install an 8,300-foot-long penstock adjacent to the earthen Tennessee Ditch Canal to recover 270 acre-feet of water lost to seepage annually. Installation of a 427-kW hydroelectric facility is expected to produce more than 1.9 million kWh of electricity annually. Reclamation funding of $1 million will go toward the total project cost of about $4.5 million.

West Porterville Irrigation Company, Piping and Micro-Hydro Project

The irrigation company in Morgan, Utah, will replace 25,075 feet of asbestos concrete pipe with high-density polyethylene pipe, resulting in annual water savings of 540 acre-feet currently lost to leaks and seepage. The company will install a 15-kW micro-hydro unit, which is expected to generate more than 55,000 kWh of electricity annually. Reclamation will provide $1 million of the total project cost of about $2.1 million.

Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, Grand Valley Power Plant Turbines and Generators Upgrade

The irrigation district in Palisade, Colo., will upgrade the Grand Valley Hydroelectric Power Plant in partnership with the Grand Valley Water Users Association. The upgrade will provide operational efficiencies and will add 1.35 MW of capacity, bringing total capacity to 4.1 MW. The facility will generate an additional 6,000 MWh of electricity annually. Reclamation will provide nearly $965,000 of the total project cost of about $1.9 million.

Three Sisters Irrigation District, Canal Piping and McKenzie Hydroelectric Facility Project

The irrigation district in Bend, Ore., will pipe 7.5 miles of existing open canals and install a 300-kW hydroelectric turbine. The conversion of open canals to pipe is expected to result in annual water savings of 1,400 acre-feet that is currently lost to seepage. A 300-kW turbine will be installed at McKenzie Reservoir and is expected to generate more than 1 million kWh of electricity annually. Reclamation will provide $400,000 of the total project cost of about $4.5 million.

Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District, W53.1E Lateral Lining

The irrigation district in Quincy, Wash., will line 7,154 feet of earthen lateral with a geomembrane liner in combination with concrete, resulting in annual water savings of 810 acre-feet currently lose to seepage. Conserved water will remain in the Columbia River, where it will be available for other uses, such as meeting hydropower demands. Reclamation will provide $300,000 of the total $722,000 project cost.

Greybull Valley Irrigation District, Roach Gulch Outlet Hydroelectric Power Plant

The irrigation district near Emblem, Wyo., will install a 3.9-MW hydropower facility on the Roach Gulch Dam outlet works, including installation of a 200-foot-long penstock pipe to convey water to the new powerhouse and a 16-mile-long, 12-kV power line to connect to the Emblem Substation. The project is expected to generate more than 7.5 million kWh of electricity annually. Reclamation will provide $300,000 of the total project cost of about $5.9 million.

Greybull Valley Irrigation District, Roach Gulch Inlet Hydroelectric Power Plant

The district also will install a 1.1-MW hydropower facility on the Roach Gulch Inlet Canal, including a new intake/bypass structure and a 2.5-mile-long, 12-kV power line. The project is expected to generate more than 2.7 million kWh of electricity annually. Reclamation will provide $300,000 of the total project cost of about $3.1 million.

Lindon City, North Union Piping Water Conservation and Measurement Project

Lindon City will replace two sections of deteriorating concrete-lined canal with 1,325 feet of concrete pipe, resulting in annual water savings of 635 acre-feet currently lost to seepage. The city will divert less water from the Provo River, which can be used to generate an additional 95,355 kWh of electricity annually through the Central Utah Water Conservancy District’s hydropower plant. Reclamation will provide about $259,000 of the total project cost of about $574,000.

Most of the above projects can be considered “energy recovery” hydropower, which involves capturing the kinetic energy involved in water moving through existing infrastructure (canals and pipelines) that would otherwise be wasted. The Western Small Hydro Association held a workshop on the topic of energy recovery hydropower in conjunction with HydroVision International 2017 last June in Denver, Colo., U.S.

For more news on small hydropower development worldwide, click here.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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