February 25, 2003 11:00 pm

There's fresh snow in those hills, but it's not enough.

The coming water season is "not looking good at all," said Mike Burton of the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Although the recent snowfall has helped some, "we've got to get an excess of normal snowfall to play catchup," he said.

"This late in the game, catch-up is a little hard."

Burton made his monthly on-the-ground snow survey early this week and found that the snow water content at Meacham is only at 45 percent of normal for the period. At Tollgate, the situation is a little better, having 66 percent of normal content.

Throughout the Grande Ronde Basin, the water content is at 66 percent of normal.

"We're still one of the better basins in the state," Burton said. "Some of the others have lost ground. Many are below 60 percent."

The amount of water held in mountain snow during the winter and early spring affects the level of irrigation water available during the dry summer months.

In March, Burton will fly over locations in the higher elevations of the mountains to measure the snowfall and water content there.