Managing Idaho’s water resources
Water is always a precious commodity, be it potable or to irrigate crops. A low snowpack for 2012-2013 combined with a warm spring, a sizzling hot start to the summer and low storage levels in the Snake River Basin and you have all the elements for a very difficult water year in eastern Idaho.
What’s an irrigation general manager to do? If you’re Steve Howser, general manager of the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company (ASCC), you start devising plans to decrease the daily demand on what is already a limited resource.
“We’re looking at really only having about 48 percent of our full storage available,” Howser said. “Normally that’s more than sufficient to get us through the second half of the season after we passed our peak irrigation period and we’re just finishing up potatoes and beets and the third cut of hay.”
However, because the canal company’s natural flow volume from the Snake River is running due to the low snowpack levels this year, ASCC will be forced to begin taking storage water three weeks earlier than it normally would.
Howser is no stranger to short water years. In 2003 he faced a similar dilemma. He has taken the previous experience and has devised a plan to reduce average daily deliveries by 40 percent to ASCC shareholders this year. View Howser discussing the ASCC water delivery system here.