Monday, July 31, 2017

Irrigation outlook

Despite Magic Valley Heat wave, Irrigation water supply at record levels

Twin Falls—With July in the record books, the 2017 season is unlike any the past five decades. That's according to Brian Olmstead general manager of the Twin Falls Canal Company.

“We’re in great shape,” said Olmstead. “The reservoirs are still well over 90-percent full and we’re not close to anybody running short on the whole river. It was on natural flow until mid-jury and since then even we’ve still been on good natural flows so far. Twin Falls Canal company, we’re still on almost entirely natural flows and probably will be for another week or two.”

Olmstead says that even with the heat and near record plantings, there’s still going to be a surplus.
“I think through the whole Twin Falls canal system we are going to carry over so much that we’ll probably have to release some water to get down to the reservoir winter levels. So nobody will run short, everyone will carry over water and we’re set up for a big water year next year,” added Olmstead.

Olmstead says that more than a quarter of a million acre feet of water was dedicated to recharge the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer.

“We did well over 300,000 feet that I know of on the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer. Thats the good thing that we have this much water.  When we have lot of reservoir water in the fall we can recharge with the storage because it has to go. It can’t go over Milner Dam so I think we might recharge another 100,000 this fall and that would unprecedented and thats an exciting prospect,” according to Olmstead.

Three hundred-thousand acre feet could stand as a recharge record, but Olmstead thats just what the Water Resource Board did.

“Above that there was quite a lot of private recharge and then there was all the recharge from out in the lava rock. I bet overall between natural and managed we probably did a million acre feet and thats the most ever,” he said.

The Magic Valley has weathered through a three weeks of scorching hot temperatures, but that hasn’t affected water supply in the least.

“The demand peaked the first week of July because thats when everyone was finishing grain. Even with all the grain shut down and the heat we’re still using less water. For instance on the Twin Falls system right now we’re using 3100 cubic feet per second. We were running 3500 cfs three weeks ago and thats the case for the rest of the Snake River Plain,” said Olmstead.

Triple digit heat shouldn’t affect irrigation on the Twin Falls system.

“The late season crops are sitting good because farmers have all covered their rows, corn, beans, beets and now they don't take as much water. And frankly its muggy with clouds every afternoon and that holds the moisture. Even though its hot the evaporation hasn’t been that high, unlike there in Boise,” said Olmstead.

Olmstead says this summer is a landmark year for Twin Falls Canal Company, but they can’t close the book on the 2017 season yet.
“We’re going to be talking about getting some more recharge done this fall and then looking forward to good water supply next year. Right now, I don’t now how we can miss,” said Olmstead.

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