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Idaho water supply off to slow start

water supply
NRCS / Danny Tappa
East Fork Salmon River

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-After a slow start in October, the 2020 water year in the Upper Snake River Basin was followed by an equally dry November and December, according to the Idaho Water Supply Outlook released by the NRCS Thursday.

As of January 1, the NRCS estimated the Upper Snake Basin snowpack at 79% of normal, while water-year precipitation is near 70%.

Snowpack ranges from 63% in the Willow Creek Basin to 95% of normal in the Salt River Basin,

The region's eight major reservoirs hold a combined 129% of average supply for the time of year. The totals range from 106% of average at Henry's Lake to 167% at Blackfoot Reservoir. NRCS describes the storage situation in the upper Snake basin as "healthy".

Based on current snowpack and precipitation data, the April-July streamflow forecast for the Snake River near Heise indicates about 80% of average streamflow for the period. Upstream forecasts predict flows of 70 to 80% of average.

Statewide, nearly all of Idaho's snowpack basins range from approximately 50 to 80% of normal. Areas south of the Snake River are at or above normal. NRCS notes that the longer water-year precipitation totals remain significantly below normal, the more unlikely it becomes to recover to normal.

The silver lining, the agency says, is that the state's current water supply outlook is above normal reservoir storage, resulting from an above normal snowpack and plentiful runoff in 2019.

You can see the full report here.

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