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East Ada County Hydrologic Project

Reference Material for the East Ada County Hydrologic Project

Irrigation well in East Ada County

The East Ada County Hydrologic Project was initiated to provide a scientific foundation for the management of aquifers underlying the Treasure Valley. In 2008, the Idaho legislature approved House Bill 428 and House Bill 644 establishing the Statewide Comprehensive Aquifer Planning and Management Program (Idaho Code § 42-1779) and the Aquifer Planning and Management Fund (Idaho Code § 42-1780). This legislation authorized the Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB) to begin comprehensive aquifer management planning (CAMP) in the Treasure Valley.

The Aquifer Planning and Management Program is designed to provide the IWRB and IDWR with the necessary information to develop plans for managing ground and surface water resources into the future. The program has two phases:

  • a technical component to characterize the surface and groundwater resources of each basin
  • a planning component that integrates the technical knowledge with an assessment of current and projected future water uses and constraints

This program culminated with the development of long-range plans for conjunctively managing the water resources of each basin—integrating hydrologic realities with social needs. The management plans are designed to address water supply and demand issues while looking 50 years into the future. The program investigated strategies and developed plans which lead to sustainable water supplies and optimum use of water resources.

The East Ada County Hydrologic Project was initiated in 2008 as part of the Treasure Valley CAMP and took four years to complete. A water budget was developed and the aquifer was characterized to assist the development of water management plans and water demand projections for the next 50 years. Data related to recharge mechanisms, groundwater flow, discharge rates, geology, and aquifer characteristics were evaluated to assist with these tasks, and the information and findings were compiled in a final report.

The East Ada County Hydrologic Project was also initiated because of the proposed residential developments along the I-84 corridor to Mountain Home and the associated water right applications. One of the goals of the CAMP program was to avoid conflicts similar to those experienced in the Eastern Snake River Plain. Proposals for large developments along the Ada/Elmore county line created concerns about the availability of groundwater resources in the area and the potential impacts to existing water users.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the East Ada County Hydrologic Project was to develop a better understanding of the water resources in the study area. Hydrogeologic characterization assisted in providing a scientific foundation for the management of aquifers underlying this portion of the Treasure Valley. This investigation was conducted as a technical component of the Treasure Valley CAMP. The general objective was to develop a water budget for the study area that can be used to create a 50-year water management plan.

Hydrogeologic characterization also assists with the administration of water resources in areas of proposed land use change. The study resulted in the development of a comprehensive technical report of the groundwater systems in East Ada County for use in water management decisions of the area.

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