Magic Reservoir

Magic Reservoir on the Big Wood River in Idaho. Irrigation managers aim to stretch the water supply in another dry year.

Faced with another relatively low snowpack, Big Wood Canal Co. managers hope to wait until May 2 before they start to deliver Magic Reservoir water to irrigators.

Snowpack in the Wood River and Lost River basins, in the central Idaho mountains, was low for the second consecutive year.

Soils are dry.

“We are hoping to delay for that long, given the soil moisture and potential demand,” Big Wood Canal board Chairman Carl Pendleton said. Delivery may be needed before the May 2 target because of the demand the dry soil and recent warm weather create.

Big Wood Canal Co. and American Falls Reservoir District No. 2 said on their website April 16 that data show Magic Reservoir “is looking at somewhere between 50 and 70 days of water delivery.” That is subject to change as snow melts and more data become available.

“Some of that depends on how efficiently the water is delivered and used” in addition to whether delivery season can be extended, Pendleton said.

Demand could shift based on planting and irrigation decisions, and delivery could pause during a spring or summer wet period.

Deliveries in 2020 concluded around Sept. 1, about three weeks earlier than usual. Voluntary reductions by irrigators in the spring helped extend the season by about a week.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reported April 1 that agricultural water shortages are likely this summer in Wood and Lost basins. For the water year that began Oct. 1, precipitation was 61-73% of normal and snowpack was 67-80% of normal.

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