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Idaho farmers needing less irrigation for crops following damp Spring

Due to the recent storms, farmers are needing less irrigation to maintain their crops, leading to decreasing demand on Idaho’s reservoirs.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Recent Idaho rainstorms are decreasing the demand for water from Idaho’s reservoirs.

In March of 2022, Neil Durrant, 4th generation farmer at Big D Ranch in Meridian, was bracing for an unpleasant drought year.

"We don't have enough water to grow the crops,” Durrant told KTVB in March. "Through 100 acres I have been farming, I might only have enough water to farm 50 of it."

Now, in June, KTVB visited Durrant on his farm again. His situation has entirely changed.

“We wish we would have planted more corn,” Durrant said.

Due to the recent storms, Durrant said his corn, sugar beets, and wheat are content.

“What’s good right now is we are not 100 degrees out and that's what really hurt us last year,” Durrant said. “It makes it easier for us because as you know we have got to irrigate all of our crops, that's why we use the water, right now we haven't been irrigating much.”

In the last few weeks, Mike Meyers, Boise River Watermaster who administers all of the water in the Boise River, said demand from irrigators has sharply declined.

“Every morning my office receives calls from the irrigators up and down the valley and places water orders and then I, in turn, call the army core of engineers, and tell them to release water from Lucky Peak, for demand on the river,” Meyers said. “I would say about 98 percent of them, most people, haven't ordered water for over a week, so it’s really good.”

According to Meyers, as of June 13, Lucky Peak and Arrowrock Dam are full. However, Anderson Ranch Reservoir is lagging. He said irrigators that have storage contracts on the Boise Project Control Systems will likely get all of their desired water but that’s not the case for others.

“Anderson Ranch will end up anywhere from 20 to 55 thousand acre-feet shy,” Meyers said. “So while it's good for some people it’s not for others and it's really hard to tell people from this side of the valley, that you're not doing so well but just on the north side of the river, we are doing a lot better.”

While drought conditions in most parts of Idaho have improved since June of 2021, Meyers said it will take more than a damp spring to pull Idaho completely out of a drought.

“This time last year we were drawing storage, so every drop of water that was coming out to the Boise river was all stored water, today it's all-natural flow,” he said. “It’s going to take a wet spring to continue, it’s going to take a mild summer, and it’s going to take a great snowpack to get us out of this drought that we are in.”

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