Irrigation season underway for the North Side Canal Company

Water management is going to be key.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 10:49 AM MDT
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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — According to the latest report from the Bureau of Reclamation, the Upper Snake River System, which provides the majority of southern Idaho with the water we need to survive, is about 75% full, and the mountains in our region still have snow.

While on the surface the water year looks pretty good, however, Alan Hansten, General Manager of the North Side Canal Company in Jerome says that water management is going to be key.

“We didn’t get quite the snowpack up there that we’ve seen in the other two regions of the state, so our water supply is not quite as good, but it is adequate for this irrigation season. But we would have like to have seen a little bit more to help bolster our carry over into the fall,” said Hansten.

In April, the Idaho Department of Water Resources amended the methodology for water delivery due to the Surface Water Coalition’s delivery call and some ground water users could be affected within the North Side Canal System.

“So, for the surface water right holders, what the methodology order does to help them is if the groundwater community… can, do things to mitigate pumping on the plain, that helps to improve the aquifer flows into the Snake River which in turn translates into natural flow for the North Side Canal Company,” said Hansten. “And what that does is that tends to delay the amount of storage and timing that we use throughout the irrigation season. Generally, if we can use our natural flow water right further into the month of June then that translates into using less storage water for the rest of the irrigation season to get us through October. "

The new methodology would curtail about 900 groundwater users pumping off of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer who do not have, or are not part of, a mitigation plan that is already in place, or who are not complying with the mitigation plan.

This includes farming, irrigation, commercial, industrial, and municipal water users within the Eastern Snake Plain Region.

The curtailment notice has been put on hold pending a hearing the Department of Water Resources has scheduled for June 6th through June 10th at the agency’s state office in Boise.