Friday, May 19, 2017

Recharge completed

Idaho Water Resource Board stops Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer recharge operations; surplus flows no longer available on Snake River  
BOISE - The Idaho Water Resource Board suspended Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer  recharge operations today, effective immediately. 

During the historic winter of 2016-17, the board set a record for recharge flows into the ESPA since the managed recharge program began with funding from the Idaho Legislature in 2015. More than 300,000 acre-feet of water has been recharged into the ESPA since last October. 
At the Board’s Upper Snake River Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said they will decrease flows below Minidoka Dam to meet irrigation demand. Flows past Milner Dam will be at or near zero today to enable the filling of the Upper Snake River Basin reservoir system.
Consistent with its policy not to impede filling of the reservoir system, the board’s recharge program is suspending its use of the Snake River’s surplus flows to replenish the ESPA. If conditions change and the Bureau of Reclamation allows additional flows past Milner Dam, the board will reassess its managed recharge opportunities.
More than 135,000 acre-feet of water has been recharged into the ESPA in the Upper Snake River Valley, with an equal volume of water recharged into the ESPA below Minidoka Dam in the greater Magic Valley area. Another 38,000 acre-feet of water has been recharged into the ESPA from the Big Wood River system.  
On the Big Wood, the board and the Big Wood Canal Company will continue recharge efforts with surplus flows from the Big and Little Wood rivers as long as the board’s recharge water right is in priority this spring. 

1 comment:

Steve said...

Congratulations to the Idaho Water Resource Board and the many canal companies that participated in aquifer recharge. In total, 313,060 acre feet were recharged. That exceeds the state's goal of 240,000 by 73,060 acre feet. My thanks to the many great participants.

There is yet more work to be done. The Easter Snake Plain Aquifer is Idaho's biggest reservoir and has by far the greatest holding capacity. The aquifer can hold many times 313,060 acres feet. It is a great waste on high snow-pack years like this to be sending so much water down the Snake River to the ocean, without storing it for a time in the ESPA Aquifer. We must be forward thinking and begin building the infrasture (canal systems dedicated to recharge that can carry water to recharge sites on the desert in the upper valley. This will take a huge commitment of time and dollar resources to accomplish. Let's begin working toward getting that upper valley recharge infrastructure completed.
Steve Bair
Chairman, Senate Resource & Environment Committee

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