Idaho Irrigators Face Shortages

Published online: Jun 09, 2004
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Many Idaho irrigators already know they will not have late water to finish off crops. Junior water rights holders also know they will probably loose storage water in August.

In the fifth in a series of drought years, Idaho growers face severe restrictions in many areas as late mountain snow pack runoff did not develop as first thought.

Jackson Lake, the highest storage facility on the Snake River system, stood at 51 percent full on June 8, with inflow dropping to 2,748 cfs. However, the lake cannot be dropped much further.

But it is the Palisades reservoir, now at 19 percent of capacity, that will catch most growers. The lake has dropped fast this spring in an effort to get water to storage facilities down river.

The entire Upper Snake River storage system stood at 48.9 percent full. Total capacity of the system is placed at 4.2 million acre feet. Yesterday there was 2,040,263 acre feet remaining.

Most eastern Idaho counties have been declared disaster areas by the state. With this designation, many growers will be able to utilize water transfers. Water interchanges are not new, and have been used for years to allow those short of water to rent water upstream from those that may have more than they need.

No restrictions have been put on most pumpers. However, in the Northside Project from Rupert, ID, west, pumps will be limited so that natural spring flow rights can be re-established as springs have dried up in the Snake River canyon, jeopardizing trout farms.