BLACKFOOT — Bingham County commissioners declared water shortage emergency in Bingham County on Monday.
The declaration states, "A disaster emergency is hereby declared to exist with Bingham County created by a severe water shortage creating an imminent threat to property, public utilities, etc."
Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company made this request. It was adopted unanimously in an open special session.
General Manager Steven Howser said, "Aberdeen-Spring Canal Company (ASCC) irrigates about 62,000 acres through 200 miles of canals and laterals in Bingham and Power Counties.
"Our supply consists of natural flow with a February 6, 1895, priority and storage water. ASCC owns space in American Falls, Palisades, and Jackson Reservoirs.
"This year, I expect to run out of natural flow within the next few days (typically it lasts until mid-July, through our peak irrigation period), and our storage supply is less than half of full," he said. "Without drastic methods to extend our supply as far as possible, I predicted we would be out of water by mid-August.
"Once we begin drawing storage water, we will cut our daily available delivery by 40 percent and place our water users on rotation," said Howser. "In addition, we are working to identify irrigation wells that are serving lands growing grain in the hopes that we may be able to transfer those water rights to lands growing row crops that are being served from the canals once the grain is finished in early to mid-July.
"We will be making changes to head gates twice a day, instead of our normal once per day, in order to save water that might otherwise go unused for 10 to 12 hours," he said. "We will control our spills back to the river and cut 75 percent from our nominal operating parameters.
"If we're successful with all these elements, we hope to stretch our supply to early September," Howser said. "We will also be applying to rent water from the Water District 1 Rental Pool and private sources.
"I hope to be able to rent enough water to get us to mid-September," he said. "This target date will should allow us to get a third cutting of alfalfa, harvest a significant portion of our potatoes, and possible get started harvesting beets.
"We often see some natural flow return mid- to late-September, which will assist with the beet harvest," said Howser.
Reported by the Bureau of Reclamation, Pacific Northwest Region, on June 19, the Upper Snake River system (Jackson Lake,Palisades,Grassy Lake,Island Park,Ririe,American Falls and Lake Walcott) is at 64 percent of capacity.