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Idaho DWR, USGS team to monitor groundwater levels

March 28, 2023

Water level measurements from 1,400 wells scheduled

For two weeks between April 3 and 14, the U.S. Geological Survey — working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — will measure groundwater levels in more than 1,400 wells throughout the Snake River Plain.

Located in the southeastern part of the state, the Snake River Plain aquifer is the primary source of drinking water and agriculture. It irrigates about a million acres of farmland and the state’s aquaculture (fish farming) industry.

The large-scale measurement of private and public wells will provide a status update on the health of the aquifer as Idaho begins the April-September irrigation season. In addition, the IDWR will use the collected data to refine its computer model of the aquifer.

The USGS and IDWR measured aquifer water levels in 2002, 2008, 2013, and 2018, and the agencies plan to continue the mass measurements every five years.

Since the aquifer provides benefits to many Idahoans, the IDWR “greatly appreciates well owners’ cooperation in the study by granting technicians access to their wells.”

The more wells from which we can gather information, the better our assessment of the current state of the aquifer will be.

Technicians carry official government identification, briefly interview well owners, and then monitor the water level using a steel tape or an electronic water level meter. They will report the results to the well owner.

Last year a predicted shortfall between surface water users and ground water users in the Eastern Snake River Plan (ESPA) region during the 2022 irrigation season lead to the state agency’s decision to curtail groundwater rights to mitigate overdraft of the basin, reported KTVB7.

KISTERS supports provincial/state and local groundwater monitoring efforts with water level sensors in addition to groundwater data management systems, for long-term access, viewing and collaborative management of underground water resources.