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Irrigation systems reimagined

Idaho National Laboratory is seeking an Idaho irrigation district to join the study of a new software tool that supports irrigation modernization decisions.

The software, developed by Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), is designed to support irrigation districts who are considering modernizing their system. Options for modernizing are diverse and include:

  • Replacing old canals with pressurized pipelines.
  • Improving water use efficiency.
  • Reducing seepage losses.
  • Providing fish passage to protect spawning habits.

Unique challenges for irrigation districts

  • Hiring a consultant to provide pre-engineering design can cost $100,000 or more. Our software does the heavy lifting, so this stage of the process is completed in-house.
  • Grant funding: Grants typically require irrigation districts to quantify their data to apply. Designed to output the information that common grants require, barriers to grant application are significantly reduced.
  • Facilitating conversations with stakeholders – regulators, patrons, community members, etc. – can be difficult. User-friendly software makes gathering and analyzing data a simple step toward providing answers to stakeholder questions.

Stakeholder benefits: The community, public and private sectors

  • Local energy solutions through building flexibility and generation into water conveyance while also reducing pumping loads.
  • Increased water conveyance efficiency and ability to choose how to most productively use conserved water.
  • Ability to plant higher value crops and/or increase irrigated acreage from water savings, an immediate benefit for farmers.
  • Social, environmental and economic benefits as a result of better water management practices.
  • Reduced operations and maintenance costs of the modernized system.

Decision support in a nutshell

  • Assess canal modernization benefits vs. costs, based on design choices.
  • Quantify investments to compete for grants.
  • Provide ecosystem services such as habitat creation, water quality improvement and recreational benefits.
  • Evaluate energy costs vs. energy generation potential.
Decision support software
A decision support software with an intuitive user interface to assess modernization pathways.

Participating in INL’s Modernization Study  

  • Your district provides information about their current infrastructure, water flows, operations and maintenance costs, and “what-if” upgrade scenarios are created.
  • The software analyzes scenarios and provides a real-time, cost-benefit assessment.
  • As a team, we discuss your district’s priorities and ensure the data output is aligned with your goals and decision support needs.
  • Our collaboration will take place over one year. All reports and information are yours to keep for future reference, at no cost to the district.
  • User support is just an email or phone call away.

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