Spokane Journal of Business

East Greenacres Irrigation District sees strong residential growth

Additional hires planned to accommodate demand

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Despite robust residential growth on the Rathdrum Prairie, the district manager for the East Greenacres Irrigation District remains optimistic about the district’s capacity to oversee the distribution of water within its boundaries in future years.

Irrigation district manager Ron Wilson says his staff of seven employees provides service to about 9,800 North Idaho residents.

“We estimate we cover 25% to a third of the city of Post Falls,” Wilson says.

As the population within the 7,333-acre district has climbed in recent years, Wilson estimates his staff, which is based out of offices at 2722 N. McGuire in Post Falls, has helped oversee installation and inspection of an average of 300 to 400 residential hookups per year for at least the last three years.

The water district is proposing a budget that represents a 60% increase since 2019, Wilson says.

The district has a proposed budget of $2.7 million for fiscal year 2022, up slightly from this year’s $2.5 million. In 2020, the district’s budget was $2.65 million, an increase from $1.69 million in 2019, according to Wilson.

The irrigation district isn’t responsible for the actual construction of residential water lines as that task falls to developers, he says.

The East Greenacres Irrigation District staff includes employees in positions of engineers, construction and utilities inspectors, and maintenance operators, he says.

“My guys work really hard; we’re a very busy office,” he says.

So much so that the district currently is looking to hire a clerk and a licensed field operator, Wilson says.

Founded in 1921, the district initially was created as a system of ditches that transported water from Twin Lakes to the sparsely populated prairie. 

The original system was often inefficient and expensive to maintain while causing fluctuations in water levels at the lake, according to the district’s historical accounts.

Following a lawsuit in the late 1960s from the Lakeshore Homeowners Association, the Bureau of Reclamation, at the request of the Idaho Legislature, led a redesign, which involved using groundwater from the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer instead of surface water from Twin Lakes.

Wilson says the move was a success.

The irrigation district today draws on water from 14 wells at three complexes and has the capacity to provide 58 million gallons daily and to fill a 43,400 cubic-foot regulating reservoir continuously while distributing water though 89 miles of pipeline ranging from six to 27 inches in diameter, he says.

Today, the district provides connections to nearly 4,000 homes compared with just 250 connections 45 years ago, Wilson says.

Kevin Blocker
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