Since February, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation has released just under one million acre feet of water from the reservoir system for flood control.
That amount of water is being counted against how much can be used for irrigation, and because irrigation season has not started yet, one group is worried there will be no water left when the season starts, causing the Treasure Valley to dry up, but the state says that won’t happen.
The Treasure Valley Water Users Association says while they are not against the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation releasing water for flood control, they are against how the state accounts for that water.
The association says the amount of water that has been released is being counted against their allotment of water.
“So this year when we released 950,000 acre feet of water and we can store about a million, we would literally maybe not have any water as far as storage for the irrigation season,” says Roger Batt of the Treasure Valley Water Users Association.
The association says irrigators usually rely on water from reservoirs starting in June, and that there is no way released water could have been put to use because many canals and fields were still coated with ice, and this summer any entity that depends on irrigation could be affected.
“If irrigation had to be turned off during hot summer months our yards and gardens would dry up, our golf courses would probably dry up, definitely our crops and pastures would dry up, we wouldn't be able to produce food,” says Batt.
How releases are being accounted for is being decided before the state supreme court.
We spoke to the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and they said while released water is being counted toward water users rights, with all the anticipated snowmelt in the next couple weeks, there will be plenty of water for irrigation this summer.
“Their concern is that somehow they will be prevented from capturing that water in the reservoir and it has never been made clear to me what would prevent that from happening,” says Mat Weaver of the Idaho Department of Water Resources.