Methow River: Barkley Diversion Habitat Project
The objective of the Barkley project is to eliminate or dramatically reduce mortality of listed fish species in the mainstem Methow River, specifically within the Barkley Irrigating Company’s diversion side-channel. Historically, Barkley has diverted irrigation water from the Methow River by constructing a seasonal gravel push-up dam in the mainstem Methow, upstream of its intake canal. The annual alteration of natural channel conditions through construction of the dam required use of heavy equipment in the river, causing a disturbance to aquatic species. The level of disturbance raised concern of harm and injury to ESA-listed fish species. In the spring of 2012, in order to reduce harm to fish, NOAA Fisheries notified Barkley that they will no longer be able to construct the push-up dam and that they needed to find a better long-term solution that is less harmful to fish and aquatic habitat.
In order for Barkley to meet its irrigation needs for the 2012 growing season, it consulted with Trout Unlimited and other partners to find a short-term solution while a longer term-plan is developed.
In 2012, Trout Unlimited, along with project partners Methow Conservancy, Bureau of Reclamation, and Anchor Environmental created a pump station 2.5 miles downstream of the current Barkley Diversion to change the point of diversion. We also utilized hand tools from past projects and contracted trustees at the Okanogan County Jail to help avoid the need for heavy equipment in the river. The project temporarily eliminates the need for a large push up dam by installing a pump and fish screen in the Methow River to provide water for irrigation.
This project went from conception to implementation in less than four months and was only possible because everyone worked together toward a shared goal. A temporary pump station is a good interim alternative to the previous diversion and push up dam. Moreover, the 2012 effort laid the groundwork for TU and partners in 2013 (and beyond) to find a more permanent solution for Barkley. This project was a huge success.
Aaron Penvose, project manager, TU Washington Water Project