Water year 2017 was above average in both precipitation and streamflow. Averaged over the whole watershed, precipitation was 138% of average, led by the Fall River watershed, at 144% of average. Due to the cumulative effect of four years of drought, especially in the groundwater-dominated subwatersheds, natural streamflow was only 109% of average, led by the Teton River at 134% of average. Streamflow in the upper Henry's Fork, which is dominated by groundwater, was only 91% of average.
Natural streamflow is still above average in Fall River and Teton River but below average in the upper Henry's Fork.
Total watershed natural flow is 3,400 cfs, right on average for this time of year. Total watershed diversion is also average, at 3,300 cfs.
Delivery of storage water from Island Park Reservoir began last week; current flow out of Island Park is 1,060 cfs, compared with the long-term average of 1,300 cfs for the date and last year's value of 1,420 cfs.
Island Park Reservoir is currently 96% full, compared with 49% full at this time last year.
Headlines: Water temperatures through the Ranch have been on the warm side. Temperature has climbed above 71˚F for a couple of hours each day over the last week. However, daily maximum temperatures have not been deadly for rainbow trout, and only a few daily averages have been at the lowest levels that would stress fish. This is the same pattern we saw in both 2015 and 2016, when streamflows were about 800 cfs higher than current flows. Thus, releasing additional water from IP dam does not result in significantly cooler summertime water temperatures, but we do know that increasing flow out of Island Park Dam decreases water clarity and will reduce winter flows, which reduces survival of juvenile trout next winter and hence recruitment of 2-year old fish into the population in 2019.
Island Park Reservoir, Grassy Lake and Henrys Lake have all filled.
Natural streamflow in the watershed is around 9,500 cfs and at its final peak for the season.
Total watershed-wide irrigation diversion is around 3,000 cfs, right at average for this time of year.
Outflow from Island Park Reservoir is being set to keep the reservoir full. Only small changes are anticipated over the next week, and outflows should remain around 950 cfs plus or minus 150 cfs, depending on rain.
Delivery of water from Island Park Reservoir in excess of inflow is not expected to be needed until early July.
Every year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) conducts multi-pass electrofishing surveys on various river reaches in the Upper Snake River region. These surveys provide valuable information on abundance, age-class structure, fish size, and species composition within the fishery. Most recently, IDFG finished its annual survey in the Box Canyon reach of the Henry’s Fork. This post will highlight and explain some of the results of that survey.