U.S. Water News Online
BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho hydrologists say the state's 2005
outlook for water is deteriorating.
Ron Nova, general manager of Schweitzer Mountain Resort above
Sandpoint in northern Idaho, said this winter is already one of the
worst on record.
Just four of Nova's six lifts are running. Skier visits are
running at 48 percent of average because, according to the Natural
Resource Conservation Service, "winter is nearly nonexistent across
the Pacific Northwest."
The service's water-supply specialist, Ron Abramovich, says the
likelihood is growing that the February through April period will be
warmer than average, increasing chances of a sixth year of drought.
Streamflow forecasts for the state remain in the 60 percent to 80
percent range, according to a recent conservation service report,
making spring flooding unlikely.
The Weiser, Payette and Boise river basins received the least
amount of January precipitation, and reservoirs in central and
southern Idaho -- in the state's most important agricultural region
-- are near minimum levels.
"Most notably, there's no low-elevation snowpack over a large
portion of the state," Abramovich told about two dozen water
scientists and professionals at a meeting of the Idaho Water Supply
Committee meeting in Boise.
There was below-average January precipitation in every region of
the state except for Bear Basin in Idaho's extreme southeastern
corner, where 112 percent of the average fell to earth. But Bear
Reservoir is filled to just 13 percent of its 30-year average after
bearing the brunt of the drought in preceding years.
Still, the long-term forecast offers some reason for optimism.
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