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Emergency drought declaration issued for all of Southern Idaho

The Idaho Dept. of Water Resources director issued the declaration for 34 counties.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little has approved an emergency drought declaration that includes all counties south of the Salmon River in Central and Southern Idaho.

Idaho Water Resources Director Gary Spackman issued the declaration Friday. State law authorizes him to issue such a declaration, with approval of the governor. The declaration takes effect immediately.

An emergency drought declaration allows temporary water right changes for the rest of the year -- a powerful tool for agricultural water users. The declaration may also help Idaho meet eligibility requirements for federal drought assistance.

IDWR is now authorized to consider applications for temporary changes in the point of diversion, place of use, and purpose of use for valid, existing water rights. Temporary exchanges of water rights may be authorized when it is determined that such changes are possible without harming existing water rights.

In his order, Spackman states that the U.S. Drought Monitor Map classifies all Idaho counties located south of the Salmon River as being in moderate to severe drought, with most counties classified as being in severe drought. The Drought Monitor Map posted online Tuesday, April 26, also indicates 82.5 percent of the entire state is in moderate to severe drought, and 6.8 percent of the state -- in some areas of Southern Idaho -- is in extreme drought. 

All Idaho counties south of the Salmon River are experiencing below-normal snowpack conditions and low water supply.

Before Friday's announcement, commissioners from 10 counties had already petitioned Spackman and Gov. Little for an emergency drought declaration for their counties.

The IDWR asks water users interested in filing an application for a temporary change in water right to follow IDWR guidelines. More information is available through the department's Drought Declarations web page or by calling IDWR at 208-287-4800.

The declaration includes the counties listed below:

  • Ada
  • Adams
  • Bannock
  • Bear Lake
  • Bingham
  • Blaine
  • Boise
  • Bonneville
  • Butte
  • Camas
  • Canyon
  • Caribou
  • Cassia
  • Clark
  • Custer
  • Elmore
  • Franklin
  • Fremont
  • Gem
  • Gooding
  • Jefferson
  • Jerome
  • Lemhi
  • Lincoln
  • Madison
  • Minidoka
  • Oneida
  • Owyhee
  • Payette
  • Power
  • Teton
  • Twin Falls
  • Valley
  • Washington

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