Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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Drought, Low Snowpack Totals Forces
Pioneer Irrigation District To Reduce Deliveries

Caldwell--A vanishing snowpack coupled with drought like weather has forced Pioneer Irrigation District to reduce water deliveries by 30 percent compared to the amount of water it normally supplies to its 5,800 patrons.  Unless conditions change dramatically, Pioneer could also be forced to completely end deliveries of irrigation water in mid-August, almost two months earlier than normal, Pioneer officials announced today.
Pioneer is hopeful that the natural flow will last until mid-May, and are currently drawing on water rights it holds for that natural flow from the Boise River. When natural flow is no longer available Pioneer will supplement with storage waters, according to Pioneer Irrigation District Water Superintendent Mark Zirschky.
The District currently has about 52,000 acre feet of storage water available.  By cutting the amount of water provided to individual water users by 30 percent, that amount of water could be stretched to last about 90 days, meaning the District would be out of water by the middle of August.  Normally, the irrigation season lasts until the first week of October.
That prompted the Pioneer Board at a meeting today to cut back deliveries by 30 percent.
“We will be running the system as lean as we possibly can. We will also need the cooperation of our users to be as conservative as possible.  But this clear is a low water year and we felt it was critical that we put in place a plan that will hopefully prove a compromise between water supply and demand,” said Board Chairman Alan Newbill.
Conditions could change should the spring temperatures be cooler than normal or if there is substantial precipitation in May. However, Pioneer Irrigation District does not plan to back away from the 30 percent cutback. Instead, Pioneer would extend the irrigation season.  Newbill said the Board of Directors want to use any improved water supply conditions to stretch supplies into a longer irrigation season if possible.

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