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Rainfall records abound, water usage plummets

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Blog on  May 30, 2019

Boise—For two months, A series of storms have soaked Southern Idaho.

Brian Olmstead of the Twin Falls Canal company says the month of May could go down as one of the wettest months on record in Central Idaho. 

“We’ve had 3-5 inches of rain and our farmers are not using any irrigation water right now,” said Olmstead 

The Canal Company according to Olmstead is running their system at the bare minimum until demand is up.

“We’re running the canals at the lowest level we can, no one’s asked for a delivery in 5 weeks, our ditch riders are getting restless,” said Olmstead.

Olmstead said the usual winds, that dry fields is non existent and temperatures have consistently stayed in the 50’s and 60’s.

By Thursday, precipitation levels  in Southwest Idaho doubled the average for May. The steady string of storms have left more than  2.62 inches of rain, far eclipsing the 1.39 inch of normal rainfall, according to the National Weather Service.

Chuck Redman of the National Weather Service says Boise has tallied almost an inch of rain at the Boise office this past week.

In fact, the Treasure valley surpassed a rainfall milestone over the Memorial holiday weekend. 

The NWS tweeted that 2019 has the third-highest rain totals since records began in the 1860’s. On Thursday the region moved up in the record books to the second wettest year ever topping 10.71 inches of rain. The wettest recorded year was in 1896, when 12.81 inches of precip fell by May 28.

Boise Board of Control Project manager Bob Carter says this year started with drought conditions in January and since then has been a wild ride with rain in the valleys and snow in the mountains.

“Its been crazy with the late snowpack and now we’ve had a slow melt-off,” he said. “That has slowed runoff and kept snow in the mountains and we’ve had minimal flooding. In fact, we are still gaining snowpack as of last week.”

Carter says because of the cold, wet weather the Board of Control cut back streamflows on the Boise River. 

“We were up to 8500 cubic feet per second but last week cut the flows to 5800 cfs because all of our accounts are filled,” he said. 

Carter says that Anderson, Arrowrock and Lucky Peak are filled and water usage is way down.

“We cut the New York Canal from 2400 cfs to 1000, because farmers just don’t need irrigation water right now, we’re going to have lots of late water and a good holdover supply going into 2020,” beemed Carter.

But Carter stresses that the Boise system is still in flood control and will continue until it heats up in June.

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