Wendell is one of several Magic Valley farming communities created following the 1905 completion of Milner Dam. The dam, located on the Snake River about 40 miles southeast of Jerome, feeds through a complex system of irrigation canals. From its inception, agricultural based businesses have dominated the city’s economy. Beginning about two decades ago, large dairy farms began developing in the Magic Valley attracted by its moderate high-desert climate, abundances of excellent quality cattle feed, water, and open-space. Some of the state’s largest dairy farms are located in the surrounding areas of Wendell.
Climate, Precipitation, and Temperatures
The City of Wendell is located approximately 3,432 feet above sea level and enjoys a mild climate. Wendell has an annual precipitation of 10.7 inches. Most of the precipitation occurs after the growing season between November and March. The average annual snowfall is 16.2 inches, with killing frost as early as October and as late as April. January on average is the wettest month with the coldest average of 19 degrees. July is the warmest month at 86 degrees. There are 206 sunny days per year. (City-Data)
Wendell is relatively flat, with soil types of clay, sand, soft lava, medium lava, ash, and cinders. The ground is suitable for development because of the deep ground base. Today, lush fields of alfalfa hay, corn, wheat, barley, sugar beets, beans, and potatoes form a beautiful patchwork of color and texture around the city.
The Snake River plays a key role for the City of Wendell and Gooding County as the primary source of irrigation water and historic livelihood of the residents of Wendell. The North Side Canal Company has delivered water to agricultural fields in Wendell since 1907.
Groundwater from the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer is used to provide drinking and domestic use water for the city of Wendell. The EPA has designated this aquifer as a sole service aquifer therefore stringent ground water regulations apply.
The City of Wendell’s water system consists of three wells. Boise Street and Lewiston Street wells are the primary sources of water for the system. The Gooding Street well provides backup. The system currently serves approximately 3000 people through 900 connections. Water is sampled on a regular basis and tested at a state approved laboratory to ensure water quality meets Federal and State drinking water standards. Prior to distribution, the water is chlorinated to ensure no bacteriological contaminants are present.
Healthy air quality sometimes goes unnoticed in rural areas such as Wendell where the air is considered clean and visibility is only cut short by low-lying hills or basalt outcrops. The air quality in Wendell is considered good, however, there can be a concern at certain times from field burning, dust, and livestock odors