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USGS and the Idaho Department of Water Resources to Measure Water Levels in 1,300 Southern Idaho Wells


Between March 31 and April 11, employees of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), working in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR), will measure ground water levels in more than 1,300 wells throughout southern Idaho’s Snake River Plain. The Snake River Plain aquifer, with an estimated volume of 200 billion cubic feet, is the chief source of drinking water for the people of southern Idaho.

The data collected from this large-scale measurement will help water resources managers understand the status of the aquifer as the state enters the April-September water year. In addition, the IDWR will use the data to continue improving their computer model of the aquifer. The IDWR wants to conduct this type of “mass measurement” once every five years at both the beginning and the end of the irrigation season.

“The mass measurement is like taking a snapshot of the current state of the aquifer,” said IDWR Hydrology Section Manager Sean Vincent. “The USGS and IDWR would greatly appreciate well owners’ cooperation in the study by granting them access to their wells. Privately-owned wells are a valuable source of information. The more wells from which information can be gathered, the better the assessment of the current state of the aquifer will be.”

USGS employees will carry official government identification. The USGS 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 Annette Campbell at the USGS Idaho Water Science Center.


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