Monday, March 7, 2011

Irrigation outlook

Adequate Water Supply Forecast even with February’s Variable precipitation

Boise-Idaho’s mountain snowpack will still provide an adequate water supply this season despite weather patterns that pushed winter precipitation to other parts of the country according to hydrologists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

NRCS measures the mountain snowpack monthly January through June to provide snow runoff predictions and water supply forecasts used in managing Idaho’s water resources. February’s snow survey shows the mountain snowpack ranges from 80% to 125% of average.

Idaho’s central mountains have the lowest snowpack and the Bear River Basin in southeastern Idaho has the highest in the state. The Bear River snowpack is the highest since 1997.

“Above average snowpacks gained from early winter precipitation carried central Idaho through the mid-January to mid-February dry spell,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “More precipitation is needed in this area to boost water supplies.”

According to the water supply report just released for March, overall Idaho’s water supplies should be adequate for most users, but could be tight in the Big Lost, Little Lost and Oakley basins. Spring precipitation would help ensure an adequate water supply for the state.

“Reservoir storage is in good shape with many reservoirs reporting average or better amounts for the end of February,” said Abramovich. “The ones we’re watching are Owyhee, Salmon Falls, and Oakley reservoirs and Bear Lake which are 60-85% of average.”

“The most important streamflow forecast for many of Idaho’s Snake River Plain water users is the Snake River near Heise which is east of Idaho Falls. The forecast for this point is 110% of average streamflow from April through July” Abramovich said.

For the full report on February’s snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supply predictions for specific basins, please view the March 2011 Water Supply Outlook Report online at and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.

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