Low snowpack in Hyalite a concern for irrigators

Low snowpack in Hyalite a concern for irrigators

Source: NBC Montana
Click here to read the article: http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/ktvm/low-snowpack-in-hyalite-a-concern-for-irrigators/445992312

By: Judith Retana

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Farmers, ranchers and recreators are keeping a close eye this month on an important Gallatin Valley water source. A snowpack update NBC Montana requested from Natural Resources Conservation Service shows snow levels in the Hyalite drainage are far below average, with some locations showing record lows.

Ronald Bos has been farming in the Gallatin Valley for more than 50 years. He is just one of the farmers who relies heavily on a good snowpack every winter for a healthy growing season.

“The snowpack levels and the irrigation are what make the crops for us. Without irrigation, we wouldn’t have much,” said Bos.

Lucas Zukiewicz, a water supply specialist with the NRCS, says the Hyalite area was first hit by below normal snowfall and then by an early melt. He says this is the second consecutive year of low snowpack in the Hyalite drainage.

“It becomes a water resource management issue for the dam managers up there as well as the irrigators to figure out how they’re going to work with it ,” he said.

Bos says he isn’t worried just yet.

“We just get our crops in early so we get an early start. I think that is the key. The whole thing is just being on time.”

That doesn’t mean more snowfall in the coming weeks wouldn’t help. Zukiewicz says there is still time in the season for more snow, and he’ll continue to monitor snowpack levels.