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Idaho water outlook mostly positive

Good carryover storage across southern Idaho should provide adequate irrigation water, while supplies in parts of central Idaho are marginal.
Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press

Published on March 6, 2018 9:35AM

Snowpack across Idaho ranges from 120 percent of normal in the Clearwater Basin to 40 percent of normal in the Owyhee Basin.

With only a month of winter remaining, some areas could use more precipitation, said Ron Abramovich, water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise.

Fortunately, a return to winter weather at the end of February brought low temperatures and storms, and conditions are changing, he said.

A warm, dry spell in January bled into February, leaving central and southern Idaho drier than normal, he said.

“A lot of the moisture fell after the first of March,” he said.

But above-average carryover and good reservoir storage across southern Idaho should be adequate for irrigation supplies, he said.

Snowpack in the Upper Snake Basin is 100 percent to 120 percent of normal, and there will be plenty of water to fill reservoirs and numerous other needs, he said.

But water supplies could be marginal in the Big Wood, Little Wood, Big Lost and Little Lost basins, he said.

A good storm visited those areas last weekend, dumping up to 2 feet of snow in some mountain locations. But those basins need another storm or two to ensure adequate irrigation supplies, he said.

And if snow doesn’t fall in the Owyhee and Bruneau basins yet this winter, those areas could use rain this spring, he said.

Abramovich and NRCS water specialists are working on their latest water supply outlook report, which will be available by week’s end.


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