Idaho’s ongoing drought halts some irrigation months early

Water managers are cutting off irrigation flows to farmers in Idaho’s Wood River basin and wildlife officials are scrambling to move fish to safer waters as a severe drought grips the area.

Farmers got 27 days of water this year before the Magic Reservoir reached 4% capacity, prompting the Big Wood Canal Company to shut off the water Thursday. The reservoir feeds about 36,000 acres of farmland. This is the canal company’s shortest irrigation season since at least 1977. Typically, the dam isn’t closed until mid-September. But roughly 80% of Idaho is experiencing drought conditions, and more than a third of the state is in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The most intense drought area in the state is in Blaine and Custer counties, and the region is in its second year of exceptionally dry weather. Snowpack in the state melted about three weeks early in the Big Wood Basin, according to the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. That’s a trend scientists have said will likely intensify with climate change, and could make water supply less predictable. (AP)

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