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Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer (ESPA) Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan (CAMP)


The Idaho Water Resource Board (Board) was tasked with developing an Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan by the Idaho State Legislature. The desire of the Legislature was to establish public policy as a settlement framework for future management of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. In 2007, the IWRB presented a framework to the Legislature and in 2009, the Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan.

From the beginning, Plan development took place in a public forum.

The ESPA Plan Framework

After a series of public meetings with stakeholders, the IWRB presented the ESPA Plan Framework (Framework) to the Legislature on February 14, 2007. The Framework recognized that supply of, and demands for, water are out of balance in the Eastern Snake River Plain and the connected Snake River, making more deliberate and coordinated management of surface waters of the Snake River and the underground waters of the ESPA a necessity. The Framework set forth the overarching goal and objectives adopted by the Board for the management of the ESPA.

The ESPA Advisory Committee

The Framework outlined a process for development of the Plan that called for an advisory committee to prepare and recommend a plan to the IWRB. In collaboration with the Governor, the IWRB appointed stakeholder representatives to the ESPA Advisory Committee. Beginning in May 2007, the Advisory Committee held monthly meetings. To ensure the process was transparent and inclusive, all meetings were open to the public and all related materials were posted on the ESPA website. The IWRB and the Advisory Committee worked together to complete this Plan for submission to the 2009 Legislature.

The ESPA Plan

Guided by the goal and objectives in the Framework, the Advisory Committee identified and considered opportunities for managing available water supply and demand to address current and future water use needs including, but not limited to, those for irrigated agriculture, aquaculture, industry, hydropower, municipalities, real estate development and domestic users and to protect environmental values.

The long-term objective of the Plan is to incrementally achieve a net ESPA water budget change of 600 thousand acre-feet (kaf) annually. It is projected that this hydrologic goal can be achieved by the year 2030 through implementation of a mix of management actions including:

  • Groundwater to surface water conversions
  • Managed aquifer recharge
  • Demand reduction through conservation and efficiency improvements
  • A pilot weather modification (cloud seeding) program in the Upper Snake

The Plan sets forth actions which stabilize and improve spring flows, aquifer levels and river flows across the Eastern Snake Plain. The Plan approaches the 600 kaf target in phases. The Plan Phase I (1-10 years) hydrologic target is a water budget change between 200-300 kaf.

The Plan was adopted by the IWRB on January 29, 2009 and passed into law by the Governor of Idaho on April 23, 2009.

The ESPA Implementation Committee

The ESPA Plan included an additional Plan action for the IWRB to establish an Implementation Committee to assist in the implementation of the Plan. The Implementation Committee is comprised of the interest groups that were represented on the Advisory Committee and, in most cases, the interest group representatives are the same as those who served on the Advisory Committee. The Implementation Committee is assisting the IWRB in the prioritization, development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of the management actions. The Implementation Committee considers and recommends actions and objectives to stabilize and improve spring flows and aquifer levels and effect changes in river flows.

As part of the Implementation Committee, Working Groups meet regularly to discuss relevant information and make proposals to the Implementation Committee regarding project implementation and funding for Phase I. These groups are composed of Implementation Committee members and are supported by IWRB Staff. The five Working Groups are Conversions, Demand Reduction, Funding, Recharge and Weather Modification.


Map of the ESPA area
(click to enlarge - 4615KB JPG)

ESPA Committees:

Legislation, Documents & Presentations:

Related Technical Information:


Questions or Comments?