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Water Draw-down Significant This Year

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By the end of this summer, those boating in Palisades Reservoir may need wheels on their boats – well almost.  Reclamation Water Operations Manager Mike Beus of the Minidoka Project says the irrigation season has started with comparatively low levels in the major storage reservoirs of the Upper Snake River Basin.  Beus says we went into the summer after a winter that didn’t produce a good snowpack which then came off mostly in a slow manner that doesn’t favor refilling reservoirs.  Consequently, he says Palisades Reservoir only filled to about half before irrigation season began. Beus says that means that as the summer goes on, the draw-down of both Palisades and Jackson Lake will be significant. He says Colter Bay may become unusable by the middle of August. He says since Palisades is already down to about 40% of capacity, the project will likely have to begin releasing water from Jackson Lake to keep Palisades from being completely empty by the end of the irrigation season. Beus says a more precise projection of how much will be drawn downstream will be available later this month.  He says last year, the bureau was able to protect Jackson Lake pretty much, taking needed water from the lower reservoirs; but this year, there just isn’t enough stored downstream to avoid drawing down Jackson Lake.

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