A crimp in the first flow of water in three years through the Arch Hurley Conservancy District’s canals was repaired Saturday evening as Arch Hurley crews worked more than four hours to clear a refrigerator that clogged the tunnel of a siphon ditch south of Tucumcari.
“The water is flowing and the district’s members will be receiving allocations as planned,” said Franklin McCasland, district manager.
McCasland said the refrigerator had been illegally dumped into the ditch and then was pushed into the tunnel by the current when water entered the canals on April 22.
Originally, heavy equipment was brought in to remove tumbleweeds that Arch Hurley crews believed to be the source of the clog. Even after a large portion of vegetation was removed, however, the flow was still restricted, McCasland said.
Additional gates were opened throughout the district to redirect the water and keep it from flooding over the banks of the canals, he said.
The crews then pushed a drill stem pipe nearly three inches thick into the ditch in hopes of pushing submerged vegetation through the ditch. He said the crew pushed 275 feet of the steel pipe through the ditch, until the pipe began to bow with the clog still intact and water levels continuing to rise. That was how they discovered the refrigerator.
With more pushing, McCasland said, the refrigerator was cleared from the tunnel, then removed from the water.
McCasland said this first allocation was released on April 22 from Conchas Lake, the district’s only source of irrigation water.
“We are hoping for additional rain fall to add to the Conchas Lake level and extend the release of water into September,” McCasland said.
In late summer and early fall 2013, a series of storms in dumped 4 to 5 inches of rain on some parts of Quay and San Miguel counties, and runoff raised Conchas Lake’s level by more than 20 feet.
For three years before those storms, drought conditions had kept Conchas Lake’s water level below the elevation required to allow water allocations to Arch Hurley members.