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Irrigators face predicted dry season ahead

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CHARLO — Local farmers and ranchers met with the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project team on April 15 to discuss water levels.

Skye Cooley, a hydrologist, shared information about snowpack in the area. “We currently have about 74 percent to 78 percent of our average snowpack,” Cooley said. 

It was also said that the current measurements are compared with the historical average. The measurement for this year could still go up with snow currently in the forecast.

“I hope we get more rain and maybe some snow to help with the moisture and snowpack so we can have more wiggle room for the season,” Cooley added.

Eric Bruguier, FIIP manager, listened to concerns and answered questions during the meeting. 

“We need to communicate and work together for the irrigation season since it will probably be another dry year,” he said.

He added that if anyone has problems as the irrigation season progresses that they should contact their local ditch rider and water master.

Koshon LaCounte, water master north of St. Ignatius, said: “We are going to send water to the irrigators around May 6, depending on the water levels, but the date should be around that time.”

Brian Healy, water master south of St. Ignatius, advised anyone experiencing difficulty getting in contact with a water master to go into the irrigation office in St. Ignatius.

For more information on contacting ditch riders, call 406-745-2661.

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