ZION NATIONAL PARK — Construction of a new river irrigation system at Zion National Park began Tuesday.

During the first phase, which is expected to be completed in April 2014, a half-mile section of the Pa’rus Trail will be closed.

The irrigation project will replace the current open irrigation system with a pressurized pipeline system, which aims to improve efficiency, increase the areas irrigated with non-culinary water, and decrease the required maintenance on the open ditch system.

The first phase of the project consists of piping water from a new intake at the Virgin River Flanigan Diversion to a new de-sanding structure, then through a 2,900-foot-long, 12-inch-diameter waterline to a new 250,000-gallon, in-ground settling tank. There will be additional phases of irrigation system construction following the completion of the first phase.

During the construction, a half-mile section of the Pa’rus Trail will be closed from Monday, Oct. 28, through late March. Hikers will have access to portions of the trail, but cyclists will need to use the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to travel through the park.

From the visitors center, people will be able to hike the Pa’rus Trail north nearly 1 mile through the south campground, past the Nature Center and to the Zion Human History Museum. From Canyon Junction, visitors will be able to hike the Pa’rus Trail south a half-mile to some of the most photographed locations along the trail.

The irrigation project is funded by the National Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, which uses funds collected from the park entrance and use fees to complete maintenance projects and public service programs.