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Bonneville County receives emergency drought declaration

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The following is a news release from Bonneville County.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources issued an emergency drought declaration on Friday, April 29, in that includes Bonneville County and 33 other counties south of the Salmon River in Central and Southern Idaho.

This declaration follows the Bonneville County Commissioners’ Declaration of a Drought on March 22, and a request for an emergency drought declaration from IDWR under Idaho Code §42-222A, this declaration is subject to approval from the Governor. On Friday, April 29, Gov. Brad Little approved the declaration, making it effective immediately.

An emergency drought declaration provides a powerful tool for agricultural water users to cope with drought by allowing temporary water right changes for the remainder of the year. An emergency drought declaration may also help with eligibility requirements for federal drought assistance.

Upon approval of a drought emergency by Gov. Little, IDWR is authorized to consider applications for temporary changes in the point of diversion, place of use, and purpose of use for valid, existing water rights and temporary exchanges of water rights, when it is determined that such changes can be accomplished without harming existing water rights.

All Idaho counties south of the Salmon River are experiencing below-normal snowpack conditions and low water supply. Total cumulative snow water equivalent (SWE) levels in these basins as of April 1, ranged from 50 to 78 percent of median. The April-to-September streamflow forecasts for most locations south of the Salmon River are between 25 and 75 percent of median.

As of April 1, water storage in most reservoirs serving the southern half of Idaho were between 20 to 65 percent of capacity, increasing the chances that many reservoirs will not fill.

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