Established in 1907, the Orland Project is the oldest Federal irrigation project in California and includes two dams (East Park and Stoney Gorge) and 156 miles of canals to irrigate approximately 20,000 acres in the Sacramento Valley near Orland. The OUWUA is the operating entity and, with a good water supply and fertile soils, the service area is a prized agricultural region. However, at more than 100 years old, much of the infrastructure is aged, inefficient, or not compatible with modern farming and irrigation practices that strive to maximize their ‘crop per drop.
The Orland Project Distribution Modernization Projects were a multi-year, $5 million effort to improve distribution efficiency, water management, and delivery flexibility improvements to support more efficient on-farm water use. Features included a 49.5 acre-foot regulating reservoir, replacement of 35 water level control structures with long crested weirs, replacement of 18 lateral headgates with state-of-the art automated gates with accurate flow measurement and remote monitoring and control capabilities, automation of the North Main Canal headworks, and development of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system – housed at the OUWUA’s main office – for monitoring and control.
Ultimately, OUWUA reduced spills by 5,200 acre-feet annually, improved the efficiently and effectiveness at which the ever-changing demands of farmers and ranchers can be accommodated, and developing valuable water accounting and management tools.