The art of getting water to where you want it is quite a business in the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande is a source of water for farming through its entire length. We observed the river being used in New Mexico last spring. Most of the water is used up before reaching Texas, so we have to start all over again and manage the watershed areas. This dam is the beginning of much of the local source of this irrigation water and is located just west of McAllen, TX.
From here they pump the water through the valley using a series of canals. These canals seem to be everywhere.
Above you will see a typical canal. However, all is not as it appears. This is actually an intersection of two waterways.
That’s not the end of that story. Here is a shot of the same “overpass” as it directs the water through a pipe under a road and into a ditch on the other side.
The fields are watered by a either flooding the field or by the use of enormous sprinkler systems.
All over the area you will see strange cement standpipes along the road and in fields. Usually there is a valve wheel visible at the top of the pipe and a ladder up the side.
They vary in size from only a few feet tall to the size shown above. Below is one of the shorter ones with Tinka beside it. You can see the handle sticking out of the top of the next pipe down the road.
I couldn’t figure out what they were for so I stopped in at an area irrigation control office to ask and was surprised to find out what they were. It turns out that these pipes are large “shock absorbers” that reduce the hammering effect of the water, similar to the risers set up in household pipes. Without these systems, there would be greater risk of damaging the pipes and causing leaks. As it was explained to me, the larger the standpipe, the more pressure the line will take.