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Rising waters concern area residents

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As waters continue to rise after relentless rain and rising temperatures, farmers who rely on irrigation waters from Crow Dam Reservoir could see devastating effects. According to Moiese farmer Bill Howell, the spillway of the dam is in disrepair, with some gates not functioning. Currently the reservoir is low and little cause for concern, but, if it were to fill completely, precious irrigation water could be released.

“It hasn’t been fixed yet, and with run-off the water could go over the top,” Howell said.

He added that 6,000 acres of land rely on the reservoir for water. If the dam breaks, farmers and ranchers could be in big trouble due to a lack of water supply.

“We’re a desert without irrigation water down here,” he said. “It could be really detrimental.”

Harley Hettick, who operates Dixon Melons, Inc. in Dixon, says the wet spring has caused some setbacks, but isn’t a huge concern at the moment. Hettick’s home lies 150 yards from the Jocko River. He says the river has definitely changed in the past few weeks.

“The Jocko River hasn’t breached its bank yet, but it’s running high,” Hettick said. “I can hear the water raging at night.”

The major factor this growing season is the weather, he added. Cold and cloudy days have prevented growth so far. Rain also brings muddy conditions, which have kept him from taking machinery into the fields. As of right now, he says it’s too early to predict how the growing season will be.

“I don’t know if it will hurt our business yet, but it certainly hasn’t helped our melons,” he said.

On a positive note, he said nobody has been forced to use irrigation systems so far this spring.

“It’s nice when you don’t have to drag irrigation piping everywhere,” Hettick said with a laugh.

For the time being, Hettick says he has no reason to be concerned, as it is still early in the season. He added that wet springs occur every three to four years, and that this isn’t uncommon. Over the past 25 years, Hettick has had his good and bad years; he just doesn’t want to revisit the worst year on record.

“We had one bad year where we only had one ripe melon,” Hettick said. “That was a bad year.”

In Ronan, Fire Chief Mark Clary says a few creeks have flooded, but no major damage has yet occurred.

“All the flood water we get comes from the mountains,” Clary said.

Spring Creek, which runs through town, shouldn’t be affected because the creek comes out of the ground near town and doesn’t fluctuate, according to Clary.

“Storm drains could bring it up, but the creek generally doesn’t fluctuate very much,” he said.

Two areas of concern are east of town on Terrace Lake Road, where a few creeks are running high, along with low lying areas such as the scenic turnout south of town, where flood waters have been known to reach the road in the past.

Bev Luedtke, who owns a home near this area deals with flooding every year. So far this spring, water hasn’t been a major issue, but there is a good amount of water down below her home.

From past experiences, Luedtke knows that when the culvert near her home reaches capacity flooding begins.

Clary says Ronan receives 90 percent of its water from Mid Crow Creek. For the past three weeks they have shut off bringing in water, which is something they do every year.

“A month out of the year we shut it down to prevent dirt from getting in the system,” he said.

“It depends on the circumstances of each year, you have no idea what will happen,” Luedtke said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and every year the creek comes up.”

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