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MURTAUGH — Surface irrigation water is slowly making its way across Twin Falls County as farmers prepare ground for the growing season.

For the 117th time, Twin Falls Canal Co. officials opened the headgates at Murtaugh Lake on Tuesday morning. Water was expected to reach “The Forks” south of Hansen, where the Main Canal splits into the High Line and Low Line canals, by late Tuesday, Twin Falls watermaster Troy Jones told the Times-News.

“The water should reach the end of the line by Saturday,” Jones said.

The “end of the line” is some 40 miles due west of Murtaugh Lake, where the last water in the canal system drops into Deep Creek, then returns to the Snake River.

Since 1905, water has been diverted from the Snake River into the Shoestring Canal at Milner Dam. It then flows to Murtaugh Lake, which holds 6,000 acre-feet or about two days’ worth of irrigation water.

The lake has remained full for the past seven winters as part of the state’s managed aquifer recharge.

Headgates at Murtaugh Lake

Twin Falls Canal Co. officials watch as water flows through the headgates from Murtaugh Lake in April 2014.

Murtaugh Lake will continue to prime the system until about April 5, when the canal water will be turned into 1,000 miles of laterals along the 110 miles of canals that wind from the lake to Deep Creek, Castleford watermaster Wayne Burgemeister said. The canal company will begin delivering water to farmers on about April 12.

The company delivers more than a million acre-feet each year to some 4,000 shareholders who irrigate nearly 203,000 acres south of the Snake River.

The irrigation season typically runs from April through October.

Here comes the water

Irrigation water fills the Twin Falls canal system Tuesday just below Point Spill, north of the Hansen Butte. The water is expected to reach the west end of Twin Falls County by Saturday.

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