As western drought lingers, low reservoir levels locally may mean tough planting and growing season ahead

A section of the Malheur siphon funnels water from the Owyhee Dam to nearby irrigation canals in and around Vale. A lingering drought combined with meager snowfall could impact the region's agriculture industry. (The Enterprise/FILE)

VALE – Mother Nature’s water storage bank account is nearly drained.

If nothing changes between now the upcoming growing season, area farmers and ranchers will confront a new array of challenges triggered by low reservoir levels.

The local area – and large portion of Oregon and the West – has been locked in drought for years which created a domino effect each year less rain and snow dropped in the mountains.

“It is a long-term impact in the region that is really coming into play,” said Scott Oviatt, a hydrologist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The . . .