BOISE – The Idaho Water Resource Board estimated that 440,000 acre-feet of water will flow into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) during by the end of the current water year – 76 percent more than the annual recharge goal of 250,000 acre-feet.
The Water Resource Board set a record with 317,000 acre-feet of recharge to the ESPA last year. The Board has recharged more than 350,000 acre-feet of water from the Upper Snake River Valley and Magic Valley regions, with another month to go in the recharge season.
“We’re breaking new records every day now,” said Wesley Hipke, the Board’s recharge program manager.
Hipke said surplus water in the Upper Snake reservoir system and additional recharge site capacity developed by the Board and its water user partners has led to a very successful recharge season.
At its March meeting, the Water Resource Board also approved spending up to $30,000 to study potential mitigation options for impacts to the northern Idaho ground squirrel resulting from a proposed expansion of the Lost Valley Reservoir near New Meadows. Lost Valley Reservoir water users want to raise Lost Valley dam to expand the size of the reservoir from 10,000 to 30,000 acre-feet. However, the reservoir is surrounded by populations of the ground squirrel, which is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Board supports water users’ interest in increasing reservoir capacity to address water needs in the Weiser River Basin but agreed that options to offset impacts to the squirrels should first be evaluated.