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Water shortage in Bingham County declared disaster

By Christina Jensen
Published On: Jun 21 2013 08:56:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 22 2013 06:46:58 PM CDT

Water managers are saying the drought conditions are getting worse in Bingham County.

BLACKFOOT, Idaho -

Water managers are saying the drought conditions are getting worse. They said this years water flow is the worst Bingham County has seen since 2003. This week Bingham County Commissioners declared a water disaster for the County.

County Commissioner Ladd Carter said the commissioners created the resolution at the request of the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company. It irrigates about 62,000 acres of farmland in Bingham and Power counties.

"I would say this is more than severe, this is potentially catastrophic for our crops," said General Manager Steve Howser of the canal company.

He said this resolution is the first in a series of steps required to declare a drought. When official, the counties have a quicker chance for emergency water transfer rights. Right now, the canal company's supply consists of natural flow.

"This year I anticipate seeing the natural flow disappear today or tomorrow, after that we begin drawing from our storage water, which is less than half of normal," Howser said.

The natural flow usually lasts until the middle of July. Howser said the lack of winter snow is causing the disappearance of natural flow. He predicts at this rate, the extra storage supply will be gone my mid-August. But he's already planning on ways to make the water last.

"We will begin implementing the day we go out of storage, including decreasing water delivery and placing share holders on a rotation," he said. In addition, he hopes to find water to rent in the future that could stretch into September.

He also said if farmers start to feel the impact we could see smaller yields of crops like potatoes, alfalfa and beats.

The governor's office is looking into data from the United States Department of Agriculture about the water shortage. After he looks at the data, a decision will be made.

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