A year after drought forced irrigation canals to dry up early, Treasure Valley is heading toward a mostly steady shutdown schedule over the next few weeks.
From September 28 to October 15, all cities and river basin districts in the valley will turn off the taps – after a year that started with fears of a bad drought but ended on a much better note.
Wednesday, September 28 will be a key day as Nampa City and two major irrigation districts, Nampa & Meridian and Boise-Kuna, shut down their systems. These two districts supply irrigation water to a wide band of the Treasure Valley.
Nampa City actually relies on three irrigation districts for its water supply, with the Pioneer Irrigation District being the third. The city said in a press release that it relies on all three to fully operate its system under pressure, so it is closing with two of the three. Pioneer has set its quit date for Monday, October 3.
“Annual irrigation ratings are calculated and based on the square footage of a property,” the statement said. “Irrigation water is not metered and the length of the season depends on water availability.”
After last year’s drought, Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling established a drought task force to prepare for future irrigation seasons and encourage wise water use, the statement said.
Here is a list of some quitting dates:
- September 28: Nampa & Meridian, Boise-Kuna, New York Irrigation District, Boise Project Board of Control
- October 3: Pioneer irrigation
- October 7: Settler irrigation
- October 12-15: Boise City Canal Co., South Boise Water Co.
- October 15: Farmer’s Union Ditch Co.
To find your irrigation district, visit the Idaho Department of Water Resources interactive map.
Bob Carter, project manager for the Boise Project Board of Control, said a typical shutdown date is early to mid-October, according to previous reports from Statesman. But he said it’s the council’s responsibility to always look to the future, even if current conditions are good.
“We would like to save some water for next year because we don’t know what the future holds for this winter,” he told the Statesman in early August.
What does the drought look like in Idaho?
Water experts and meteorologists in Idaho feared a drought worse than last year in early spring, after seeing light snowfall in the mountains and predicting hot, dry temperatures throughout the winter season. ‘irrigation. However, heavy rains – and even lots of snowfall – in late spring made far more water available than in 2021.
“This year was good, but it was very unusual,” said Michael Comeskey, secretary-treasurer of the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District. “We were preparing for the worst of the droughts.”
Paul Arrington, Executive Director of the Idaho Water Users Association, said the irrigation season ideally lasts until October, so this year’s schedule worked well. With more water available, irrigation districts were able to extend seasons, but conservation was always on the minds of many.
“A drought doesn’t necessarily mean the ground is parched and cracked,” Arrington said. “It’s about how much water we have.”
Arrington said a dry season also affects Boise’s recreational and aesthetic values because water from the river is diverted into canals for agricultural irrigation, sometimes causing low flows in the Boise River.
More visibly, however, a drought impacts farmers, he said in a phone interview.
“Farmers are going to plant fewer acres and they have nothing else to fall back on,” he said. “Maybe they will plant a crop that needs a bit more water which may bring in more money, or maybe a crop that needs less water that might not bring them any money. .”
People living in residential neighborhoods can turn to city water to irrigate their lawns when irrigation districts are closed, Arrington said, but farmers don’t have that option.
“This expectation that we’ve created to have the greenest lawns and the tallest trees, it’s beautiful,” he said. “But in times of drought, which happens to us quite often, it’s not the most beneficial use of our water.”
Arrington said he recommends people create more drought-tolerant land and practice xeriscaping.