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Water-resource trends and comparisons between partial-development and October 2006 hydrologic conditions, Wood River Valley, south-central Idaho

December 19, 2007

This report analyzes trends in ground-water and surface-water data, documents 2006 hydrologic conditions, and compares 2006 and historic ground-water data of the Wood River Valley of south-central Idaho. The Wood River Valley extends from Galena Summit southward to the Timmerman Hills. It is comprised of a single unconfined aquifer and an underlying confined aquifer present south of Baseline Road in the southern part of the study area. Streams are well-connected to the shallow unconfined aquifer. Because the entire population of the area depends on ground water for domestic supply, either from domestic or municipal-supply wells, rapid population growth since the 1970s has raised concerns about the continued availability of ground and surface water to support existing uses and streamflow. To help address these concerns, this report evaluates ground- and surface-water conditions in the area before and during the population growth that started in the 1970s.

Mean annual water levels in three wells (two completed in the unconfined aquifer and one in the confined aquifer) with more than 50 years of semi-annual measurements showed statistically significant declining trends.

Mean annual and monthly streamflow trends were analyzed for three gaging stations in the Wood River Valley. The Big Wood River at Hailey gaging station (13139500) showed a statistically significant trend of a 25-percent increase in mean monthly base flow for March over the 90-year period of record, possibly because of earlier snowpack runoff. Both the 7-day and 30-day low-flow analyses for the Big Wood River near Bellevue gaging station (13141000) show a mean decrease of approximately 15 cubic feet per second since the 1940s, and mean monthly discharge showed statistically significant decreasing trends for December, January, and February. The Silver Creek at Sportsman Access near Picabo gaging station (13150430) also showed statistically significant decreasing trends in annual and mean monthly discharge for July through February and April from 1975 to 2005.

Comparisons of partial-development (ground-water conditions from 1952 to 1986) and 2006 ground-water resources in the Wood River Valley using a geographic information system indicate that most ground-water levels for the unconfined aquifer in the study area are either stable or declining. Declines are predominant in the southern part of the study area south of Hailey, and some areas exceed what is expected of natural fluctuations in ground-water levels. Some ground-water levels rose in the northern part of the study area; however, these increases are approximated due to a lack of water-level data in the area.

Ground-water level declines in the confined aquifer exceed the range of expected natural fluctuations in large areas of the confined aquifer in the southern part of the study area in the Bellevue fan. However, the results in this area are approximated due to limited available water-level data.

Publication Year 2007
Title Water-resource trends and comparisons between partial-development and October 2006 hydrologic conditions, Wood River Valley, south-central Idaho
DOI 10.3133/sir20075258
Authors Kenneth D. Skinner, James R. Bartolino, Andrew W. Tranmer
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2007-5258
Index ID sir20075258
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Idaho Water Science Center