Idaho's Clearwater and Lochsa rivers have made it on a list of top 10 most endangered rivers in America. The list is put out every year by American Rivers, an advocacy group that works to protect and restore rivers in the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a southern Idaho county to its list of Idaho regions considered natural disaster areas because of drought.
The department designated Elmore County a primary natural disaster area, making farmers and ranchers in the county eligible for natural disaster assistance. Other Idaho counties with federal natural disaster declarations include Ada, Boise, Custer, Owyhee, Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls.
Idaho water managers this week filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The state's Water Resource Board continues to study the feasibility of building a new dam on the Weiser River.
The Galloway Dam Site would include a 40-60 megawatt hydropower plant. The project would be located 13.5 miles upstream of the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers.
Randy Julander measures snowpack for the U.S. government’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. It’s his job to tell water users what they can expect to see flowing down their streams and irrigation canals come spring.
When Julander answered my recent phone call, he was way up in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. He was having some mixed feelings.
"Gosh, it’s clear skies and the sun is hotter than a two-dollar pistol. I’m sitting here at 8,500 feet and in shirt sleeves," Julander said.
The stretch of rain and snow across much of Idaho in the last few weeks has transformed what looked to be a terrible water year into a pretty good one. It’s not just farmers who are breathing easier now. Many in Idaho’s tourism industry, like whitewater rafting companies, rely on snowpack and stream flows as well.
The latest map showing the water content of Idaho’s snowpack reveals the state continues to make up significant deficits seen early this winter.
Idaho has 21 basins where the Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snow accumulation and then assesses how the water content compares to that of a normal year. As of Thursday, all but five are at 80 percent of their average, or greater.
The Boise River basin is at 95 percent. The Payette River basin is 94. Most areas in central, northern and eastern Idaho are now above 100 percent of their normal snowpack levels.
When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.
The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.
That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.
At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.
Growers of sugar beets and potatoes in eight counties along southern Idaho's Snake River could be in jeopardy after a fish hatchery's complaint it isn't getting its fair share of water.
Idaho Department of Water Resources' director Gary Spackman signed an order Wednesday telling 2,300 water-right holders they'll have to shut down irrigation if they can't reach a compromise with Rangen Inc, a Hagerman-based fish farm.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter aims to build billions of dollars in new or expanded Idaho dams, to capture more water in his state's drought-stricken southern desert for crops, cities and flushing endangered salmon to the sea.
He's asking lawmakers to give him $15 million down payment for, among other things, studying whether a new era of dam building make sense, given somebody will have to pay for it.
One project he's pushing, a new Weiser River dam, could be used for everything from flood control to electricity.
The Beaver Creek wildfire burned 174-square-miles in August and threatened Ketchum and Hailey. After the fire, torrential rains sent mud and rocks down burned mountainsides. Debris hit homes and covered roads.
“Some of these debris flows were 20 to 30 feet thick,” recalls Dave Evetts. He’s the assistant director for hydrologic data at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Idaho Water Science Center in Boise.