- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Officials from irrigation districts in southwestern Idaho say the state’s water supply outlook is improving thanks to a series of snow and rain storms that hit the region in March and April.

Numbers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service show March precipitation was 163 percent of normal in the Boise basin. Reservoir storage on the Boise system was 107 percent of average and 64 percent of capacity on April 1.

“This last bunch of storms we got kind of sealed the deal for us. It’s going to be a good irrigation season,” Alan Newbill, chairman of the Pioneer Irrigation District’s board of directors, told the Capital Press (http://bit.ly/1hQbh0S).

Last year, many irrigation districts in the Boise region had to stop delivering water about a month early because of a water shortage.

But this year, the water supply outlook improved dramatically from January to March 1, and the spring storms since then have some predicting a normal water year for irrigators.

“It’s painting a much better picture than we had a month ago or even two weeks ago,” said Greg Curtis, water superintendent for the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District, the Treasure Valley’s largest. “It makes me a whole lot more optimistic that we can get a full season out of it.”

Caldwell’s Tony Weitz was one of the farmers who had irrigation water shut off early last year. That impacted some of his cropping decisions.

Weitz planted spring wheat in late February 2013 before he realized how dire the water situation was going to be. When he understood how bad it really was, “we just left the spring wheat we had planted without irrigation and used the water for the rest of our crops,” he said.

Weitz doesn’t expect to have to make those kinds of decisions this year.

“It’s a lot better now,” he said.