TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – More potable water is saved for future use, canal water is better utilized, and water going into the Snake River is cleaner than it used to be – just some of the benefits of the city’s pressurized irrigation system, according to local water experts.

“We’re hoping by the end of the week to achieve 50 percent delivery,” said Ryan Baumann, water supply supervisor for the City of Twin Falls. “That would be great.”

Baumann and his small staff were at one of the city’s 23 pressurized irrigation pump stations on Monday, prepping it for the 2016 water season.

The system pumps filtered canal water to homes for use in landscaping, saving groundwater for drinking and bathing. The city put the system online in the year 2000 in an effort to save more potable water.

“The system works,” Baumann said. “It’s been working out real well for us.”

Before canal water reaches the pump stations – and thereafter moved to about a third of the residential homes in the city – it first collects in settling ponds managed by the Twin Falls Canal Co. The ponds also serve as wetlands for waterfowl, said city spokesman Joshua Palmer, and nitrates that seep back into the ground help recharge the aquifer. Once at the homes the water can be used by residents on their lawns.

“Canal water is fine for flowerbeds, groundwater for bathing,” said Jeff Malina, senior water supply technician.

Water that doesn’t make it to homes moves into the Snake River; because it has been filtered, it is cleaner water going into the Snake.

“There isn’t as much debris in the river as there used to be because of it,” said Brian Olmstead, general manager of the Twin Falls Canal Co.

He called the city’s pressurized irrigation system “state of the art,” noting that the city is one of the canal company’s largest shareholders. He said he’d like to see more cities follow Twin Falls’ example.

“The scope of it, I think it’s pretty incredible,” Palmer said.

The pressurized system has allowed the city to increase potable water storage for the past 16 years – “about 5 million gallons a day that we’re not pulling from the springs,” Baumann said.

Drew Foster, another senior water supply technician, added: “Every gallon of canal water we use is a gallon of potable water saved for the future.”

Baumann and his crew check each of the 23 stations regularly, he said Monday afternoon at the Settlers Ridge Pump Station near the Snake River Canyon – the pump farthest north of the city. Each of the stations also receive preventative maintenance about every seven years. Once turned on, the pumps work all year long.

Residents still need to do their part to conserve water, he said. Homeowners should check their watering schedule, found on the city’s website.

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