Working to Find Ways to Reduce Selenium In Our Locally Affected Waterways
2010 Project Highlight Selenium Control Project: Loutzenhizer Lateral Piping
Project Partners: Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, State of Colorado Non-Point Source Program, Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program, Gunnison Basin/Grand Valley Selenium Task Forces, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado River Water Conservation District and U.S. Geological Survey
Acknowledgement: The Selenium Task Force would like to thank all of the above mentioned project partners for their financial and technical assistance in the development and implementation of this important project.
Project Background: In late 2005, the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association (UVWUA) and members of the Selenium Task Force decided to pursue a State of Colorado, Water Quality Control Division, Non-Point Source (NPS) program grant proposal to pipe irrigation laterals in the Uncompaghre Project Area. 2005 was a unique year for the NPS program in that they had $800,000 of federal funding in the Non-Point Source program and they were seeking proposals to fund a large-scale pollutant reduction implementation project.
At about the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was soliciting proposals for off-farm salinity control projects under the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program (CRBSCP). This presented a great opportunity for the STF, UVWUA, and the CRBSCP to cooperate on the implementation of a large multi-phased piping project (a.k.a. Phase IV Lateral Piping Project for the Uncompaghre Project Area) for salinity and selenium reduction benefits. The piping of irrigation laterals has been shown to reduce both selenium and salinity in the Lower Gunnison River Basin (see Effects of Piping Irrigation Laterals).
The UVWUA was successful in receiving funding from both the NPS program and the CRBSCP and were able to leverage these funds and increase water-quality benefits for all project partners.
Project Goal: The goal of the NPS project is to reduce selenium loading to the lower Gunnison and Colorado River systems in order to bring several selenium impaired 303(d) listed segments into compliance with EPA standards. The goal of the CRBSCP proposal is to reduce salt loading to the Colorado River system. By leveraging the two funding source, a larger project with greater water-quality benefits could be realized.
Project Progress: Six and one-half miles of the EF lateral were replaced with closed pipe and will remove an estimated 171-214 pounds/year of selenium and 2,138 tons/year of salt. The entire Phase IV Lateral Piping project will replace approximately 11.9 miles of open ditch laterals with closed pipe resulting in an estimated reduction of 262-328 pounds/year of selenium and 3,275 tons/year of salt from the Loutzenhizer Arroyo sub-basin.
The U.S. Geological Survey is contracted to do water-quality monitoring for this project in the Loutzenhizer Arroyo sub-basin. A final report for the project including results from the water-quality monitoring program will be available June of 2012.