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WWRC 85-17(p)
Augmentation of Casper's Municipal Water Supply Through Control of Irrigation Canal Losses


In the late 1970s, Casper faced an increasing water demand while holding junior water rights on an over-appropriated river system. At the same time, the near-by Casper-Alcova Irrigation District (CAID), while it held substantial storage rights, was experiencing a massive debt load, increasing operation costs, and the need for capitol improvements. This was happening at a time when farmers could not afford a rise in irrigation costs. An agreement was reached between Casper and CAID whereby the city would be able to purchase up to 7000 acre-feet per year. However, use of this water could not affect irrigation deliveries or downstream water rights. Under these constraints, funds provided by Casper would be used on improvements to save water which had been lost in transmission and only the amount thus saved could be used by the city.

A detailed study was undertaken to quantify transmission losses on the 62 miles of main canal and the 158 miles of lateral ditches. Seepage loss was determined on individual reaches using inflow-outflow techniques. The first improvements were completed in the spring of 1984 when 380 acre-feet were made available to Casper at an initial cost of about 500 dollars per acre-foot.

This project involves many levels of government, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Soil Conservation Service, Wyoming State Engineer, Wyoming Water Development Commission, City of Casper, and CAID.

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