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Drought causing American Falls to have low water levels

AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The lack of precipitation this summer is having a significant impact to one of our local reservoirs.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports that the American Falls Reservoir is currently operating at only 16% of its capacity.

Pocatello native Jeff Jensen says the current conditions here at the reservoir is not something he is used to. 

"It's very abnormal," Jensen said "Last year at this time, it was almost at 100% capacity."

As an avid fisherman, it's the fish that Jensen is worried about most.

"With the drought, I hope it doesn't kill a really good fishery like we have here," Jensen said. "But as it looks right now, it's doing some damage on the fishing for sure."

The low water levels were also very noticeable to Oregon native Thomas Hooley.

"Seeing water this low this time of year is not really a good sign," Hooley said. "If you study the weather patterns, it's just heating up all over, and I think it's global warming."

During his travels, the reservoir in American Falls stood out to him most. 

"When I came in from Oregon to come over here, I was stopping by a few reservoirs, and this is by far the worst I've seen," Hooley said.

The impact of the current drought is not just limited to people trying to enjoy the reservoir.

American Falls native Mark Mills says his number one concern is for the farmers on the canal system being able to finish their crops. 

"Your potatoes won't start bulking until probably the middle of August to the first of September," Mills said. "It also has to cool down before the sugars come to the sugar beets. So, it will be very devastating to this area."

It's an area that many in our local community love to spend their time in. 

"The reason we come out here is we're watching the grandkids for three days, and you got to keep them busy and active and wear them down a little," Mills said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will resume work to improve the American Falls Dam on Aug. 1. The agency plans to operate the reservoir while construction is underway.

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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