U.S. Water News Online
ABERDEEN, Idaho -- Careful conservation and a little help
from Mother Nature means farmers relying on the Aberdeen-Springfield
Canal Company will have at least an extra month to water their crops.
General Manager Steve Howser warned shareholders in June that they
probably would not have irrigation water after Aug. 12. But recently,
he said the water was expected to last until the end of September.
"Now I smile every day," Howser said. "We sure didn't expect to be
able to do this. We're having our own little minor miracle."
To save water, the farmers had reduced their watering time by up
to 10 hours on each section of crops. The change cut use by about 45
percent, Howser said.
Though growers expected reduced yields from the limited watering,
cool evenings and timely rain over the past few months kept the
losses from being too great by adding more water to the soil and
reducing the amount lost to evaporation. For the first time in three
years, alfalfa farmers were able to cut their crops the normal three
times during the season.
"If we'd had the same summer as last year, this wouldn't have been
successful," Howser said.
The company also used a new chemical treatment on its canals,
Howser said. The chemical sealant, polyacrilomide, was added to eight
miles of the canal, reducing water loss into the soil and saving an
estimated 12,000 to 14,000 acre feet of water. The chemical is
certified for use on food products by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and breaks down when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet
light, Howser said.
The efforts were a success because farmers were willing to help
conserve the water, Howser said.
Assistant Watermaster Lyle Swank said farmers across southeast
Idaho are generally a little bit better off than last year, although
the total amount of water stored in southern Idaho reservoirs is
about the same as last year.
"It's kind of a mixed report," he said.
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