Twin Falls, ID, Irrigators Getting Too Much Rain?

Published online: Jun 06, 2005
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Early in 2005 irrigators in the Twin Falls, ID, area made a call for irrigation water after it looked like they would be going into the sixth year of drought and the driest peirod for 100 years.

Today those same irrigators are almost afraid to say out loud that they have been getting too much rain and need to have it stop for harvest of early hay and to finish planting late crops.

With the Snake River storage system now just over 82 percent full, the fear Twin Falls-area irrigators felt in January and February has been doused by rainfall totaling over six inches in the last few weeks in the area..

The down pour is "off the charts" and unprecendeted for the area which sits in a desert area at the west end of the Magic Valley. In another strange twist, a check with some canal companies in the Twin Falls area has shown increased flows in the last three days.

In the northern portion of eastern Idaho, it is just the opposite. Irrigators have been shuting down head gates to save water for later. They are using what moisture has fallen to get them through.

While a few canal companies in the Twin Falls area took water April 1, others took it on April 15. Most shut down delivery on April 20 when it started raining.

The total moisture received for the April/May period was 6.6 inches in Twin Falls; 7.2 inches in Burley; 4.9 inches in Pocatello; 3.5 inches in Idaho Falls, and 4.3 in Rexburg. These totals range from 347 percent of normal in Twin Falls to 140 percent of normal for Idaho Falls.

In addition, there is 1.3 million acre feet more storage in the Snake River system's reservoirs than on the same date last year. Water officials say the storage totals have not been caused by runoff but by less water being diverted.

The bottom line, according to water officials, is despite the rains it will not mean the Snake River system will be filling higher-than-expected natural-flow priorities.

It was in the Twin Falls area that irrigators felt that over the past two or three dry years they had been shorted on irrigation water by upstream users. A plan is in place to shut down pumpers with junior water rights. These same pumpers have to make up a huge supply of river flow despite the precipitation.