SHELLEY, IDAHO — Even with the recent rainfall we’ve had this week, many ponds, lakes, and reservoirs have all but dried up due to the crippling drought in southeast Idaho.
This has led to not just decreased space for ducks to swim, but decreased water supply for farmers in the area.
Normally the slide in Jefferson Lake, right outside Rexburg, Idaho would dump you into about five feet of water. Unfortunately, as of right now, there’s not much lake there.
Jefferson County Lake, which normally sees hundreds of people swimming in its normally deep water during the summer may have a tough time attracting anyone this year to pay $5 admission for puddle jumping.
“My grandfather moved to this area in 1946,” said Lorin Clinger, speaking with Scroll TV News outside his farm in Shelley, Idaho.
The small amount of rain that we’ve received, which is so important to his family’s livelihood, has done little to ease his anxiety.
“This week, we got about 1/10 of an inch and basically, all it’s done is settled the dust,” said Clinger.
With the lack of precipitation, Clinger has also had to start irrigating some crops early that would be getting water from the normally dependable April and May rainfall.
“So we’re irrigating our potatoes already, and we normally wouldn’t have to do that until about June,” Clinger said.
While the rainfall we’ve had over the last few days has been very welcome to the area, it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what will be needed. Next season’s water reservoir levels will depend greatly on how much is collected this year.
Cleve Bagley, soil conservation technician with the USDA, who has himself been a farmer for over 30 years said this has been one of the worst years on record for snow accumulation.
Great news for drivers, but for farmers, it’s an entirely different story.
“There’s a lot of red on this map,” said reporter Jym Pagel while looking through provided maps, displaying color-coded drought severity conditions across Idaho.
“Oh yeah, there’s a lot of red on this map, and when you look at that, [you can see that] our snow is gone. We only have about 45 percent of normal [accumulation],” said Bagley.
Mr Bagley had even more alarming news about recent snow surveys he performed in areas such as Kilgore.
“I did a snow survey, and normally there’s 10.8 inches. When we measured, it was 1.8,” Bagley said.
Both Clinger and Bagley have said that farmers will generally be able to make due this season, because of excess precipitation and water collected in reservoirs from last year, but next year will depend greatly on what they’re able to collect right now.