Looking Back on Innovations from Colorado River Salinity Project


In hopes of reducing salinity in the Colorado River, a program was started years ago that brought a major change to face of agriculture in Emery County.

The project started a number of years ago with a goal of decreasing runoff from local farms and, consequently, decreasing the amount of salinity in the Colorado River.

To do so, an effort was made to change local irrigation from flood irrigation to sprinkler irrigation.

The effort was made possible with federally-allocated moneys and began in the Grand Junction area before spreading to the Uintah Basin and then to the area affected by the Price and San Rafael rivers.

The installations began with those using the Ferron River and then made their way to include the area affected by Huntington Creek before finally being made available to those using Cottonwood Creek, according to Craig Johansen.

Johansen, who serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Cottonwood Creek Irrigation Company, also reported of a total 33 million dollars being spent on the Cottonwood area, the smallest of the three. He also gave estimates of 60-80 million and 30-40 million dollars being used for the Huntington and Ferron areas, respectively.

“It’s been a good thing,” said Johansen who has seen farms increase in size with the new irrigation. Johansen also explained how irrigation has increased by 25-30% in watering efficiency.

Calling the project quite an effort, the board member also explained how the project funded only a third of the needed cost, with the additional monies coming from loans and private sources.

The salinity project is still alive and well, according to Johansen, and monies are still available. While funding is not as high as it once was for those interested, it is still a continuing program for the future.

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