Idaho Water Woes May Be Gone

Published online: Mar 09, 2006
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Idaho growers are breathing a little easier as the winter's snow totals continue to show marked improvement over the previous six years and may signal an end to a long drought.

The Committee of Nine, or presidents of the nine major canal companies in southern and eastern Idaho, met this week and were assured that water supply totals would be much better than in previous years.

In the recent past, Idaho has had to wrangle and tussle with water trades, rented water, and stream flow compromises to bring their crops to maturity.
During this week's meeting, state and federal water officials told rrigators it appears--at least in early March--that all reservoirs on the Snake River system will fill. In fact, water is already being let out of the large Palisades Reservoir on the Idaho/Wyoming line to allow for upstream inflow to avoid the possibility of flooding.

The good news was welcomed and should rain and snow fall continue in the present trend lines, all spot-drought shortages should be eleviated this coming irrigation season.

Most snow basins in eastern Idaho are in the 90 percent-plus range of April 1 totals and some are over last year's totals to date.

Over the past drought years some irrigators have simply run out of water and have had to harvest what they got. In addition, one of the first water calls on Snake River water was made by Hagerman trout farms because water rights from spring flows were being sapped by upstream pumpers.

The committee is hopeful there will be ample water to recharge the Snake River aquifer. The aquifer has been described as the size of Lake Erie but drawdown has been great over the extended drought period.