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Report: Idaho's rivers projected to remain above average this summer

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Posted at 11:22 AM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 13:22:39-04

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has just released the sixth water supply outlook report for the 2016 water year.

The water supply outlook report shows that a solid snowpack still exists above 8,000 feet in the central mountains of Idaho, and in most basins -- more than twice the normal amount. In addition, residual streamflow forecasts call for average or greater June to July volumes across the state.

“Water users, managers, river runners, and concerned public will want to keep watching the weather, snowmelt rates and river levels until we are assured the high-water season is behind us and the dry summer season is here,” said Ron Abramovich, Water Supply Specialist for NRCS Idaho.

“While May brought lower than normal precipitation to Idaho, the water year-to-date precipitation is above normal across the state -- ranging from a low of 127% of average in the Spokane and Salmon Falls basins, to 170% in Little Wood and Big Lost basins,” said NRCS spokesperson Mindi Rambo. “It is worth noting that, with the exception of the Mud Lake area, Idaho as a whole has already received its annual precipitation for the water year that runs from October to September.”

Currently, it’s the reservoirs that are on Idaho’s “must watch” list, the NRCS said. 

Spillways that have not been used in years have opened, while others have been releasing water since mid-February to make room for this winter’s snowmelt. In the June Water Supply Outlook report, NRCS Snow Survey staff noted that the multiple streamflow peaks resulting from May’s yo-yo-like temperatures are good, but are also keeping reservoir operators on their toes.

“The June 1st streamflow forecasts call for two general categories. In the Clearwater basin and Panhandle region, stream flows are projected at 100 to 125% of average. For the rest of the state, numerous streams have and may continue to set new daily high flow levels this year and are projected at 150 to 250% of average for the June to July period,” Rambo stated.