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Twin Falls Canal Company Keeps Busy During Winter Months

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By Joey Martin

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Water is the life blood of agriculture here in southern Idaho.

The Twin Falls Canal Company is in charge of making sure that water makes it to the fields.

However, when fall rolls around, the water is shut off...

And, that's when crews begin the tireless process of clearing out and repairing over 1-thousand miles of canals.

"Whenever you... we divert water out of the Snake River, it's better than it used to be, but there's still a lot of mud and debris in it. So as you run the water in the summer in the canals, you settle a lot of that mud into your canals and ditches.

We spend the winter months running track-co's down the canals and laterals and shape up the canals... clean the mud burns out of there and a lot of vegetation that has accumulated in there over the summer," explains Brian Olmstead, Twin Falls Canal Company.

Along with repairs during the fall and winter seasons....

The waiting game is a huge part of the canal company's process.

Over the past few years, drought has dwindled the American Falls, Palisades and Jackson reservoirs to the point where the winter's snow pack will either make or break the coming spring's crops

"Well, because it was such a dry summer and hot... we've pretty well drained all the upper Snake River reservoirs. So they're not at zero, but they're all down in the under 10% range. And of course it's mainly the winter precipitation and the spring run-off that will fill them," Olmstead says.

With the winter snow fall nipping at our heels...

What is the estimated snow pack levels need to replenish the upper Snake River reservoirs?

"So far we're off to a normal, of little better than normal start up in the snow pack. If we’re going to fill those reservoirs, we’re going to need 110 to 120% of a winter snow pack. Looking okay so far... but of course it’s barely the start of the snow accumulation season," Olmstead says.

Playing the waiting game and hoping for plenty of snow.

Over the winter, the canal company will continue to repair their canals and laterals.

In early March, the company will begin the process of charging the system...

And then will be ready for farmers in the spring.