Idaho Irrigators May Just Squeeze By

Published online: Aug 31, 2004
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Idaho's eastern and southern irrigators may just squeeze by this season, with the ability to do so attributed to timely rains last spring and throughout the summer.

But the final chapter of this summer's irrigation season still hasn't been written. Growers in the lower Magic Valley may be the ones most hurt by the lack of late water.

Keith Esplin, executive director of the Potato Growers of Idaho, said that with good management he believes most growers will make it through the season.

The Aberdeen/Springfield Canal Company should have water into September, Esplin said, because of those timely rains.

However, he said there are canal systems that are "very tight" especially in the Magic Valley. Some growers may be left dry as the remaining storage water due them runs out.

Because the American Falls Reservoir never filled completely and because and water rights were only met by 85 percent of the system's normal inflow, the North Side Canal Company may have to turn off on September 1.

Readings Monday showed the American Falls Reservoir at 6 percent full, Palisades at 17 percent, and Jackson at 22 percent. The entire Upper Snake River system stood at 18.4 percent.

With downstream growers having to rely on the AF water, inflow and their "catch" reservoirs, Milner and Walcott, growers know the writing is on the wall.

Esplin said he has heard the Gooding Canal will run out; Grace growers will run short and Arco growers will be left dry.

"Overall I think we're in better shape than earlier this spring. The rain helped a lot."