Bureau of Economic Geology

Idaho Water & Managed Recharge – Solving Yesterday’s Problem and Building for the Future

September 3, 2020 9:00 AM
Wek Hipke

Wes Hipke
IWRB Recharge Program Manager
Idaho Department of Water Resources

Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) has been losing approximately 200,000 acre-feet annually from aquifer storage since the 1950s resulting in a significant decline in groundwater levels and spring flows. Stabilizing the ESPA is critical to maintaining the minimum flow requirements on the Snake River, reducing conflicts between the water users, and the economic stability of the area. Approximately one third of the State’s economy is generated from this area and as true with most areas within the west the economy of the regions is directly linked to the availability of water. To address this issue the State of Idaho adopted an ESPA Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan (CAMP) in 2009. The plan outlined a collection of methods that in conjunction could be used to stabilize and potentially build the aquifer back up. A key component of that plan was developing a managed recharge program capable or recharging, on average, 250,000 acre-feet per year. This presentation will focus on the challenges of developing a managed recharge program, the accomplishments to date, and what’s in store for the future.