Letters From the West

Pioneer cuts its water supplies by one third because of drought

Pioneer Irrigation District board members from left Alan Newbill, Leland Ernest, and Rob Greenville, shown during a meeting at the district office in Caldwell (Idaho Statesman File Photo)

Pioneer Irrigation District board members from left Alan Newbill, Leland Ernest, and Rob Greenville, shown during a meeting at the district office in Caldwell.
(Idaho Statesman File Photo)

Another Treasure Valley irrigation district is cutting its water supply because of the low snowpack this spring.

The Pioneer Irrigation District Board voted Monday to reduce water deliveries by 30 percent to its 5,800 customers. I reported Friday that the Boise Board of Control, that supplies several irrigation districts from the New York Canal was cutting its water deliveries by two thirds.

Pioneer is cutting less but warned it may end deliveries in mid-August, nearly two months early.

Pioneer officials are hopeful the natural flow from the Boise River will last until mid-May. When That’s over Pioneer will supplement with storage waters, said District Water Superintendent Mark Zirschky.

The District currently has about 52,000 acre feet of storage water available, enough for 90 days supply.

“We will be running the system as lean as we possibly can,” said Pioneer Board Chairman Alan Newill. “We will also need the cooperation of our users to be as conservative as possible.”

If enough rain comes in May Pioneer said it will extend the irrigation season, not increase the supply.

“We felt it was critical that we put in place a plan that will hopefully prove a compromise between water supply and demand,” Newbill said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West