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Farmers prepare for start of 2018 irrigation season

Irrigation season starts next week and that means both farmers and the Water Improvement District have a few days to get ready before the water starts flowing from Caballo dam. Credit: KFOX14 / CBS4

The weather is warming up and that means the start of a new planting season for farmers.

Irrigation season starts next week and that means both farmers and the water improvement district have a few days to get ready before the water starts flowing from Caballo dam.

This year, the El Paso county water improvement district will be giving farmers a full allocation - 4 acre feet per acre.

That’s the same amount as last year.

The water will start flowing from the dam in New Mexico next week but won’t get into the Borderland until March 19th.

So in that time, 400 miles of canals are being cleared of debris.

And as the clock ticks, its a big priority not only for the district but for farmers as well.

“Our men are going through the canals and cleaning up the head gates and any debris that might be in the canals,” El Paso County Water Improvement District general manager Jesus Reyes said.

“(We’re) Just trimming and cleaning up the ditches and just getting everything nice and level so that the water can flow smoothly and faster so that you’re not having it sit and be stagnant,” said pecan farmer Guadalupe Ramirez.

Water improvement district crews have also been making some improvements to some of the canals during the off season.

“Every year we’ve been doing concrete lining of canals. This conserves water and it helps our delivery system and it delivers water to our constituents a lot faster,” Reyes said.

There are 400 miles of canals. 100 have been concrete lined so far.

Conserving water is a plus for farmers, who are looking forward to receiving a full water allocation again this year.

“Last year was sufficient- of course more is better but it’s way better than 3-4 years ago when we had the drought and we were probably half of that,” Ramirez said.

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