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Water expert: “February made all of the difference!”

Posted: 10:33 AM, Mar 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-27 16:33:56Z

BOISE — With a surplus of water in the Upper Snake River Reservoirs, the Idaho Water Resource Board is projecting that it will likely surpass its goal of recharging an average of 250,000 acre-feet of water into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (also known as ESPA) for this winter.

“The month of February made all of the difference!" said Wesley Hipke, Recharge Program Manager for the Board. Reports say some parts of Idaho’s mountains had 300 percent of normal snow fall in February.

“There’s still some ice and snow in canals, but recharge flows are increasing in the Upper Snake region and the Magic Valley region,” he pointed out. “Surplus water flows may allow the board to conduct ESPA recharge activities through at least mid-April.”

All of that helps with ESPA recharge, particularly as the ice and snow recedes from canals.

Last year, the board set a record by recharging more than 525,000 acre-feet of water into the ESPA, more than doubling the annual goal.

In June last year, hydrologists with the Idaho Department of Water Resources noted that the ESPA rose by more than 1.7 million acre-feet in one year -- the largest single-year increase in eighty years. The increase was due in part to two robust winters back to back, the 2015 water settlement between the Surface Water Coalition and the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, and surplus water from high reservoir storage.

(photo courtesy: Steve Stuebner)