2013 Water Supply Forecast

posted Mar 13, 2013, 11:00 AM by Steve Howser

I've just completed my analysis of runoff forecasts, storage fill, and our potential water supply for the 2013 irrigation season. To the point - it looks like it's going to be a tight year. The March 1st Idaho Water Supply Outlook from the NRCS is predicting a 77% runoff flow for the Snake River at Heise. For us that means we will likely have a shortened natural flow season. As of the time I write this, the storage system is still about 68% full and it is not likely that the system will fill this year. Based on the runoff predictions, the current state of fill in the reservoirs, and the snow pack above 6,000 feet, I estimate we will have at most 70% of our full storage allotment available, with 65% fill more likely. A shortened natural flow season and 65% storage allocation means we'll have barely enough to have a sufficient water supply.

If we continue to experience dry weather, the potential for a short water year increases dramatically. I am confident at this point that our automation and close management of our water supplies will get us through the year, although it's not likely we'll have any carryover left at the end of the season. At the Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors instructed me to rescind my policy of requiring 48 hours notice to have your water turned on. However, I am requesting that whenever possible you all give me as much advance notice of your needs as possible. The more advance notice I have, the more tightly I can control our operational spills, which means our available supplies will last longer.