Cold temps promising for snowpack, but Idaho’s drought outlook for 2023 unclear

Idaho News
By Erin Banks Rusby; Idaho Press Snowpack at Bogus Basin in Boise, Idaho. The normal high temperature for Boise on Nov. 9 is 52 degrees. But this year on that day, the high was just in the 30s. Even in mid-November, Boise’s normal highs are in the 40s, said Troy Lindquist, a senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service. That said, the Treasure Valley’s recent cold weather in tandem with the snow that fell is good news for Idaho’s water supply, he said. “That’s nearly 20 degrees below normal, for Boise, so it’s definitely going to be chilly,” Lindquist said during a meeting earlier this month about the outlook for Idaho’s water supply over the next year. “The nice thing about this is we’ve got a fast start to our…
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Water alternatives presented to Moscow leaders

Idaho News
By Anthony Kuipers; Moscow-Pullman Daily News The Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee presented its report on alternative water sources to the Moscow City Council on Tuesday in an effort to inform city leaders about ways to slow the aquifer’s decline. PBAC hired Alta Science and Engineering Inc. as a consultant to analyze the four alternatives. The recommended alternative is to divert water from the South Fork of the Palouse River in Pullman eight months out of the year, and divert water from Moscow’s Paradise Creek four months out of the year. It was the option that scored the highest based on criteria that includes cost and reliability. During a July PBAC meeting, Alta’s water resources division manager Robin Nimmer said this option had the least expensive capital cost of $73 million…
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Spokane Riverkeeper urges conservation as water flows fall

Idaho News
By Kip Hall; The Spokesman Review Kayakers paddle slowly down the Little Spokane River where it flows along State Route 291 and near where it flows into the Spokane River in this July 2021 photo. River flows that year were among their lowest over the past five years, according to United States Geological Survey data, and flows this year are approaching those levels after the river was roaring from heavy snowmelt and rain earlier this spring. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW) The organization tasked with protecting the Spokane River is urging city residents to reduce their water use, including watering lawns and plants just twice per week, during the final weeks of summer as flows plunge to droughtlike levels. “We had all this water. We had this great snowpack,” said Jerry White…
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Exploding population boom in Idaho is affecting domestic water supply

Idaho News
By Anteia McCollum; Idaho Capital Sun Tourists and locals alike enjoy a beach along the shores of Coeur d’Alene Lake near the resort in Kootenai County. (Anteia Elswick/Idaho Capital Sun) As more people migrate to Idaho, counties like Ada and Kootenai are seeing the effects of the rising population on the areas’ already diminishing water sources. Whether water is coming from groundwater sources like aquifers or surface water sources like rivers and reservoirs, local officials say Idaho’s water is being used faster than it can be replenished. In 2015, Idaho had the highest water usage per person in the nation with an average of 184 gallons of water being used a day, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey. While 1.6% of Idaho’s water withdrawals were used for…
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Idaho drought likely to linger into new water year

Idaho News
By Brad Carlson; Capital Press Much of Idaho likely will remain in some level of drought when the water year ends on Sept. 30. Erin Whorton, a water supply specialist at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise, said about 68% of the state is drier than normal, and 45% remains in moderate to severe drought. Some relief came with the wet weather last spring. But the hot, dry summer in much of the state leaves little time to make up ground before the water year ends, she said. The dry pattern “really doesn’t let us get out of drought until we get into the wetter fall and winter months,” Wharton said. She said that to end drought by Sept. 30, Idaho needs between 96% and 317% of normal…
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Idaho fire officials say cool, wet spring could produce a more normal fire season

Idaho News
By Clark Corbin; Idaho Capital Sun Firefighters respond to the Moonstruck Fire, which was contained in early September 2021 near Lake Lowell in Canyon County. (Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management) Thanks to a cool, wet spring, the wildfire outlook for July across most of Idaho looks more normal than last year, officials told the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners on Tuesday. Although the news is good in the short term, the risk will increase later in the summer, officials cautioned. “Looking at July, at least for Idaho, we are expecting near normal fire potential. It may even be on the lower end of normal because of the wet spring and cool spring we have had that has continued well into June,” said Jim Wallman, a meteorologist with…
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Drought conditions improving with recent rainfalls

Idaho News
By Corey Evan; Independent Enterprise PAYETTE — On April 25, Payette County Emergency Manager Adam Gonzalez gave the Payette County Board of Commissioners an update on the present state of drought conditions in Payette County. At the board’s regular meeting, he said that recent rainfall had helped improve things over where the county stood a month prior. “There’s a lot of discussion about drought. I wanted to get ahead of the discussion a bit,” said Gonzalez to the board. “I know the Governor’s had some … discussion about it.” In discussions with Payette Irrigation District Water Master Neil Shippy, he said Shippy determined that the recent rainstorms have been a big boon for local water storage, especially the Cascade Reservoir. Gonzalez cited an Idaho SNOTEL Current Snow Water Equivalent report,…
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Blackfoot to organize water advisory board

Idaho News
By Logan Ramsey; Post Register BLACKFOOT — The City of Blackfoot is working to form a water advisory board in order to involve citizens in preparing to conserve water as the snowpack and the natural flow of the Snake River decreases over time. The first meeting was on March 24. “We want citizen ownership of this,” said Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll. Princeton Lee, Blackfoot Water superintendent, said the goal of the board will be “to try to get the citizens to conserve water or help us change the way we use and perceive water. I feel like that’s something that the citizens of Blackfoot or users of the water system should help us craft.” This summer could be particularly hard on people who use irrigation with junior water rights as…
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Snowpack, water supply depend on March rains

Idaho News
By Hannah Ashton; Magic Valley Times News Snow falls as the water flows Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at Auger Falls in Twin Falls.Drew Nash, Times News TWIN FALLS — Idaho broke water records in March — not the good kind. Across the state SNOTEL — Snowpack Telemetry sites — hit record low precipitation levels for January to March. Many of the data sets go back 40 years, making officials with the Idaho Water Supply Committee even more nervous. “Since about Jan. 7, we’ve really had a failure of normal precipitation in the state,” said David Hoekema, hydrologist with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, during the March committee meeting. The snow water equivalent (SWE), which stands for how much water is in the snowpack if it melted, has “dramatically decreased,”…
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Drought, low snowpack may foretell Idaho’s future

Idaho News
Idaho Statesman Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, Boise, ID. Much of Southern Idaho, cut through in scythe like fashion by the Snake River Plain, relies on the frozen water stored in the state’s mountains to fill its rivers. When winter ends and summer’s broiling heat arrives, it is these snowy peaks that serve as the state’s reservoir, filling the Salmon, Snake, Big Lost, Boise and other tributaries with cold, clear water. But as the amount of snowfall declines, with scientists citing the effects of climate change as a key contributor, major problems arise for the state’s ecosystems, residents and agriculture industry. And that erosion is already underway. By the turn of the century, Idaho could see reductions of 35%-65% of its snowpack, according to a study published in Nature Reviews…
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