Two meetings held this week are beginning to outline the coming summer weather and water supplies for area farmers.
The Pathfinder Irrigation District heard from the Wyo. Bureau of Reclamation yesterday at their board meeting on the water supplies for the summer.
The projected April through July runoff from the snowpack in the mountains has been reduced by approximately 100,000 acre-feet.
“Our intent is to carry-over as much water as possible,” said Dennis Strauch, general manager of Pathfinder Irrigation District. “As next year we’ll be a lot more dependent on what happens in the snowpack.”
The low snowpack was also discussed at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Climate Assessment Response Committee on Monday, June4.
With June, just getting underway, it may be hard for irrigators to hold back any water, as temperatures have already been hitting the 90’s in much of the region.
“We didn’t see a lot of the winter snows we usually get, ” said Mat Habrock, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and chair of the Climate Assessment Response Committee.
Nebraska had a warmer winter than usual according to Habrock and the summer is forecast to be hot and dry.
“We are beginning to see some dryness set in in southeast Nebraska and there’s a lot of dryness to the southwest of us,” Habrock said. “So there’s the question of whether or not we’ll have enough groundwater moisture available for the dryland crops.”
This year the reservoirs have a good carryover, which will allow a full water supply to producers.
Farmers are encouraged to be aware of their water use and look at ways to reduce their use this summer.
“If they (irrigators) are caught up to maybe shut their water off for a few days,” Strauch said. “We’ll make sure we can reduce our usage or put it into a lake so it’s not lost to the system.”
Strauch added if the water is in the lakes it can be saved and used, as carryover for next year.
This year the water supply will be adequate for the irrigation season. The amount of carryover storage at the end of the season, though, will be considerably less than the last few years. Again irrigators are encouraged to work with the District to manage their water use and conserve as much water as possible for carryover for next year.