Could covering California’s irrigation canals save it from the current drought? Some scientists and engineers think so, and they also believe it could meet the state’s entire renewable energy commitments.
A proof of concept and pilot project in Turlock Irrigation District called Project Nexus will cover a mile-long stretch of canal in five megawatts worth of solar panels that will hopefully demonstrate increased renewable power generation, water quality improvements, reduced vegetative growth in the canals, and reduced water evaporation.
This is building on a 2021 Univ. of California Merced and UC Santa Cruz research team study which estimated that covering all the state’s canals with panels could prevent 65 billion gallons of fresh water loss through evaporation.
Formed in 1887, Turlock was the first irrigation district in California, and provides irrigation water to 4,700 growers who farm about 150,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley. The project is due to break ground this year and finish up in 2024.
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