Media Advisory: Water Levels to be Measured in 1,300 Southern Idaho Wells

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Data Will Provide a “Snapshot” of the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer

USGS hydrologic technician collecting groundwater level data

A U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician collects a water-level measurement from a monitoring well at the Idaho National Laboratory in southeastern Idaho.(Credit: Roy Bartholomay, USGS Idaho Water Science Center. Public domain.)

BOISE, Idaho — Between March 19 and April 13, employees of the U.S. Geological Survey, working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation, will measure groundwater levels in more than 1,300 private and public wells throughout southern Idaho’s eastern Snake River Plain. The eastern Snake River Plain aquifer provides the area’s primary source of drinking water, irrigation for 1 million acres of farmland and water for the state’s aquaculture industry.

The data collected from this large-scale measurement will help water managers understand the status of the aquifer as the state enters the April-September irrigation season. In addition, the IDWR will use the data to continue improving their computer model of the aquifer. The USGS and IDWR measured aquifer water levels in 2002, 2008, and 2013, and the agencies plan to continue the mass measurements every five years.

"The mass measurement is like taking a snapshot of the current state of the aquifer," said IDWR Hydrology Section Manager Sean Vincent. "We would greatly appreciate well owners' cooperation in the study by granting our technicians access to their wells. Privately-owned wells are a valuable source of information. The more wells from which we can gather information, the better our assessment of the current state of the aquifer will be."

USGS, IDWR, and Reclamation technicians will carry official government identification. The technicians will spend a few minutes with well owners to ask about any changes the owner has made to the well since the last measurement and how long it has been since the well was last pumped. The technicians will then measure the water level in the well using a steel tape or an electronic water level meter, and they will report the results to the well owner.

For more information about this study, please contact either Sean Vincent at the Idaho Department of Water Resources (208-287-4853) or Dave Evetts at the USGS Idaho Water Science Center (208-387-1316).