Water Supply Update

posted Jun 20, 2013, 2:45 PM by Steve Howser   [ updated Jun 21, 2013, 8:38 AM ]
The water right priority on our reach of the Snake River has dropped to 1896 today, so I expect to run out of natural flow within the next couple of days. Our natural flow typically lasts until mid-July, extending through our peak irrigation period. Once our natural flow runs out we begin drawing storage and our storage supply is less than half of full. Without drastic methods to extend our supply as far as possible, our models indicate we would be out of water by mid-August. 

In order to extend our supply, we will need to take several measures. Once we begin drawing storage water, we will cut our daily available delivery by 40% and place our water users on rotation. Rotation consists of normal water delivery for no more than six continuous days. After six days, delivery for that headgate moves to the back of the rotation. It will take us a couple of weeks to make the transition to rotation, but once our deliveries are sufficiently staggered no headgate should have to wait more than 3 days to come back on. The faster you can get across your fields, the sooner you should be able to come back on. We will be making changes to head gates twice a day, instead of our normal once per day, in order to save water that might otherwise go unused for 10 to 12 hours. I'll be controlling our spills back to the river very tightly and plan to cut our operational spills by 75%. Finally, we have requested emergency drought declarations from Power and Bingham Counties to facilitate emergency water right transfers. We are working on indentifying wells that are irrigating grain crops in the hopes that once the grain is finished we can transfer those rights to lands growing row crops that are being served by the canal.

If we're successful with all these elements, we hope to stretch our supply to early September. We will also be applying to rent water from the Water District #1 Rental Pool and private sources. I hope to be able to rent enough water to get us to mid-September. This target date should allow us to get a third cutting of alfalfa, harvest a significant portion of our potatoes, and possible get started harvesting beets. We often see some natural flow return mid- to late-September, which will assist with the beet harvest.
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