A good year of snow and cold weather in the mountains has given water managers throughout the state some much-needed good news. Right now, the threat of drought seems distant.
In the Treasure Valley, the Bureau of Reclamation released water behind Lucky Peak Reservoir this week, increasing flow from about 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1,500 cfs. The federal agency did that, in part, to deal with runoff from melting mountain snow. As of Thursday, the Boise Basin’s snowpack was 112 percent of normal.
Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Mary Mellema says irrigators who rely on water from the Boise River should feel much better about the overall water picture now than at this time last year. She says although water managers aren’t predicting flooding, there’s more of a chance of that happening this season than in the recent past.
“If we get a lot of precipitation," says Mellema, "a lot of rainfall right during warm temperatures when snow is melting really rapidly, there’s always a possibility that we would have to increase the discharges to flood levels through the City of Boise.”
Mellema says the Boise reservoir system is already almost 72 percent full, and they expect irrigators will have enough water to last throughout the season – and to create some carry-over into next.
She reminds people to be cautious near the Boise River since it’s running faster and colder than just a week ago.
Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio