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Report Paints Dry Outlook for Idaho Agriculture

Idaho farmers who depend on irrigation fear they're facing shortages, summer shut-offs and possible legal battles because of paltry snowpacks, scant rainfall and dry soil. A new report by the Natural Resources Conservation Service paints a gloomy outlook for agricultural interests, the primary economic drivers in central, southern and southeastern Idaho.

Ron Abramovich, the NRCS water supply specialist for Idaho, said snowpack levels in the state peaked on March 1st, a month earlier than normal, and that snow levels right now are more normal for June. April was also warmer and drier than usual, prompting farmers to plant earlier, but also forcing them to use irrigation water earlier.

Abramovich said streams throughout southern Idaho have already hit peak flows, and many have dropped to summer levels. And several vital reservoirs in Idaho are holding less water than normal. Abramovich warned that many reservoirs will likely be drawn down to minimal storage levels before the end of summer - and the end of the growing season.

Many Idaho irrigators are junior water rights holders under state law, meaning that in the event of shortages, their pipelines and canals will be the first to go dry.

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