Posted September 23, 2014
The Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) and three irrigation water providers will conduct the state’s first extensive winter aquifer recharge effort, according to a Capital Press article by John O’Connell available here.
American Falls Reservoir District No. 2, Southwest Irrigation District and Twin Falls Canal Co. joined the pilot project because of a new tiered payment program that awards greater payments per acre foot for longer durations of recharge. The program utilizes a state-held recharge right, which remains a priority throughout winter to maintain a base flow of 500 cubic feet per second below Milner.
IDWR deputy director Mat Weaver said the state has an annual goal of recharging at least 100,000 acre feet with a scheduled increase of 250,000 acre feet in the next few years. However, IDWR has only averaged 75,000 acre feet per year since 2009. The tiered structure is expected to make recharge more cost-effective during winter with no competition with canal maintenance but weather is a hassle.
IDWR is also encouraging Northside Canal Co. to participate in the project and address concerns about water freezing in hydropower turbines on the company’s main canal. Eventually, Harmon hopes to recharge every other year, rotating shifts with Northside, and conducting more in-depth system maintenance in off years.
For more information on water law, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.