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March 27, 2023

Water levels to be measured in 1,400 southern Idaho wells

BOISE, Idaho— Between April 3 and 14, 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 1,400 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.

USGS hydrologic technician collecting groundwater level data
USGS hydrologic technician collects a groundwater-level measurement from an aquifer monitoring well at the Idaho National Laboratory.

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, 2013, and 2018, and the agencies plan to continue the mass measurements every five years.

"The mass measurement is like taking a snapshot of the aquifer," said Sean Vincent of the IDWR. "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 ( or Amy Wehnke at the USGS Idaho Water Science Center (

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