Emmett Irrigation fees not going up, for now

Pump at the Black Canyon Dam that helps feed the Northside canal of the Emmett Irrigation District. 

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While much of Idaho has already seen irrigation seasons cut short, it appears that one side of the Emmett Valley will likely avoid that fate, but those irrigating out of the Black Canyon Canal the shutdown appears imminent.

Emmett Irrigation District users who receive their supplies from the Northside Canal appear to be in a position to possibly receive their normal delivery year.

“We anticipate that those on the Northside will make it through the full season,” District Manager Neil Shippy said. “We are still running on storage and that normally takes us to mid or late September. After that we can usually run on the normal river flow. Without rain that river flow may be a little tight.”

Those who draw their supply from the Black Canyon Canal on the south side of the valley will likely see their supply shut down on Sept. 17. That supply diverting at the Black Canyon Dam is shared with the Black Canyon Irrigation District (BCID) which supplies irrigation water all the way to north of Parma. The BCID has informed its water users that shutdown of supply should be complete by Sept. 18

In a letter to its patrons, the BCID explained their reasoning for the early shutoff:

“The decision was reached by the Board of Directors after much consideration and canvasing of patrons. We have been monitoring weather patterns and taking the advice of experts and all indications are to prepare for a multi-year dry pattern across the North West. That being said, the determination was made to turn off the 17th in order to best situate the District in preparation for another dry winter. If BCID were to continue to run beyond the 17th the wasted water or “carrying water” would far exceed what is actually being put to beneficial use, thus depleting storage that otherwise could be carried over into the 2022 season.

In addition, a very large percentage of acreage in the District will not have any remaining storage within a the next few days and many are already out. Each day that percentage grows significantly. From canvasing, it was determined that a large majority of crops in the District will be beyond the critical watering stage or completely finished. By choosing September 17th the District hopes to carry approximately two weeks of water into the 2022 season. If the Payette Basin has a similar year to last year, we would likely be forced to shut off sometime around the end of August in 2022, however an additional two weeks would likely finish a large majority of crops in the District.

It is also worth noting in comparison, that on a regular basis, BCID carries over about 4-6 weeks worth of storage for the next year. For example, last year after the final accounting run for October, BCID carried over about 64,000 acre feet and the reservoir did not quite fill, but due to this carryover and conservative operations we were still able to allocate 2.5 acre feet to our patrons and are able to run to the 17th of September. Without that carryover BCID would have likely allocated 1.8 acre feet per acre and shut off around September 1st this year with no expectation of any carry over for next year.”

With BCID making that decision it became inevitable that EID patrons serviced by that canal would see a common shutoff.

Shippy pointed out that it is impossible for Emmett Irrigation to try to continue to flow a supply to its users on the Black Canyon Canal when there is not a continued flow to the other end of the shared canal system.

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