BOISE -- If you enjoy boating at Lucky Peak Reservoir, get ready for some big changes. Water managers need to get farmers the irrigation they need, and with other reservoirs tapped out they're going to start using the water at Lucky Peak.
Southwest Idaho is in a drought, due to the Boise watershed getting around half as much precipitation as normal this year. Lucky Peak is one of the few places with water and Park Manager Keith Hyde sums it up this way. "It's a drought year, and drought years stink."
Right now, Lucky Peak Reservoir is nearly 100 percent full, but starting Monday that's going to change in a big way. Since Anderson Ranch and Arrowrock Reservoirs are about tapped out, Lucky Peak will now have to provide the irrigation for farmers. While it's nothing new for Lucky Peak to provide irrigation, this draw down is coming about a month earlier than normal and will have a big impact on boaters.
"When supply gets pinched, everybody feels it, irrigators, recreationalists," says Hyde. "And of course, agriculture is a greater need that water skiing."
The water level will drop one or two feet a day. New obstacles will pop out of the water daily, some places will become inaccessible overnight and some boat ramps will be left high and dry.
Hyde says, in about a month, probably only two of the seven ramps will be open. That means boaters like Amy Anderson will have to be much more careful on the water, and be more patient on the docks as a lot of boaters are funneled into a couple ramps.
"I think it's definitely going to make it hard for people to come out and camp and enjoy it," said Anderson. "There's already, especially on the weekends, so much traffic to the launches that are open that I can't imagine there being more traffic. So, it's going to be pretty congested."
However, all recreationalists and water managers can do is try to make do, and hope for a lot of snow in the Winter, to help water levels recover in time for next Summer.
"The only thing worse than a drought year, is two drought years in a row," says Hyde. "So, let's keep our fingers crossed that we don't have a repeat in '14."
Hyde says this draw down will not affect the Boise River levels, or the beaches at the bottom of the dam. He also says he hasn't seen a drought year this bad since 1977, but five wet years in a row are lessening the impact on everyone.