Idaho farmers watch water supplies dwindle under heatwave

Nathan Gibbs, reporter: On a 35-degree morning here in Idaho, temperatures were in the 60s and the pines were blooming. It was a welcome relief for Montana farmers, who have battled fires and punishing…

Idaho farmers watch water supplies dwindle under heatwave

Nathan Gibbs, reporter: On a 35-degree morning here in Idaho, temperatures were in the 60s and the pines were blooming. It was a welcome relief for Montana farmers, who have battled fires and punishing drought.

At Snake River Irrigation Company, Jerry Gahnan has worked his fingers to the bone to finish a planting when in Montana the soil can’t even absorb enough water.

Jerry Gahnan, chief irrigation engineer, Snake River Irrigation Company: If it wasn’t for irrigation, it wouldn’t be worth keeping our operations open and we’d just be sitting around watching it die. We’d probably go out of business.

Gahnan: In August, the company used 200,000 gallons of water, more than its normal monthly amount, to get its corn and rice crops into the ground.

The extreme hot summer and a dry spell has pushed up water prices which adds pressure on Gahnan’s business. If the heat continues, flood concerns could reignite,

Gahnan: You’d have to wonder how many of these towns along the riverbank would have their bridges washed out if it was so hot. I’m just thinking about it now. We’d like to open up these canals, but if the weather stays like this, I wonder if we could still do it.

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