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OID Takes Next Steps For Automation

POSTED June 2, 2010 2:11 a.m.

The Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously approved the implementation of a demonstration project for Total Channel Control (TCC) on the Claribel and Cometa laterals by Rubicon Systems, an Australian company that manufactures water control gates, precision water measurement instruments using wireless technology, and monitoring and control software that enables water authorities to manage and operate their systems more efficiently.

The cost will be shared with Rubicon. The district’s estimated costs will be at $1 million to come from bond finances secured in 2009 and Rubicon’s costs are at $1.53 million. The project is expected to move forward at the end of the 2011 irrigation season. More specifically, Rubicon will install approximately 37 gates to the Claribel Lateral from the Southside Regulating Reservoir to its end (spill) and the upper Cometa Lateral from the Northside Regulating Reservoir to the border between Districts 9 and 10.

OID General Manager Steve Knell said that the advantage of TCC is that it ties the SCADA (automated monitoring/control equipment) gates to all respond together instead of each operating independently.

“The world is going to automation,” Knell said. “…This is the next level of automation for irrigation districts.”

This control system is described as being able to substantially eliminate lateral canal spill and assist in better on-farm water control and higher on-farm efficiency. Additionally, there would be approximately a half dozen automated turn-outs installed to some landowners who could test and experience “on-demand” ordering and shut-off water orders, which is the highest level of system control. Also, since every gate is recorded it can regulate and readjust the water. This will also let the district know if water is being taken without permission and from where.

Director Steve Webb commented that he thought installing the system is a good idea and that it moves the district forward. He added that it’s a better solution than capturing water at the end of the system and pumping it back.

Knell previously stated that the Cometa feeds one of the highest outflow divisions in the district that is usually “feast or famine” with water control. He said the Rubicon system would provide a steady head of water and address the problem.

Director Herman Doornenbal concurred with Webb and added that he sees how it will help the district better manage the water and that the district is eventually going to have to install such systems anyway. He also said that he believes that once the system is installed, the district will see water savings right away but that it will be very evident when deliveries start.

OID automated its main canal and lateral heading systems with Rubicon gates and has about 30 Rubicon hardware packages. It has used Rubicon gates for nearly five years.

Rubicon approached OID and a few other irrigation districts in the west near the beginning of 2010 to showcase its water systems. Knell previously reported that the company was interested in OID because of the district’s plans for modernization and also showcasing its products on this continent is a better deal for them than flying potential clients to observe their systems in Australia.

In other business, the board voted on board officers with Al Bairos to be board president, Frank Clark to be vice president.

In reports, the board heard a report about Tri Dam operations, with information about the power market and cost changes to the Coffer Dam construction for the purpose of excavating a powerhouse. Also, it recently snowed at Strawberry and the snow pack continues to sustain itself, which is a good sign for maintaining a “normal” year.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 15 at the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.

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