Friday, December 20, 2013

Bellevue plans for water-use future

City gets advice about conjunctive management


A consultant told Bellevue city officials this week that the city should use water from its spring source for warm-weather irrigation. Express file photo

    The Bellevue City Council got some advice on Monday on how best to prepare for conjunctive management of water in Blaine County. The new form of management by the Idaho Department of Water Resources will govern surface water and groundwater rights collectively, not separately.
    The council heard a presentation from Christian Petrich of SPF Water Engineering. In anticipation of the new form water rights administration coming to the county in the next few years, Petrich offered recommendations and possible strategies for managing Bellevue’s water distribution.
    SPF analyzed the city’s current models of water use impact, and found Bellevue’s domestic water consumption to be fairly modest, with an annual spike in irrigation use. Much of the water supplied to the city of Bellevue comes from the Seamon’s Gulch spring, as well as the city’s Chantrelle and Chestnut wells. Petrich said that once conjunctive administration becomes active, possible curtailment of water resources could affect the amount of water pumped from the Chantrelle and Chestnut wells for junior-priority rights.
    Petrich made various suggestions for possible conjunctive administration strategies, emphasizing the use of the senior-priority spring right from Seamon’s Gulch. He recommended that the City Council discover whether or not the spring water is being used to its maximum potential, a resource that could possibly ease future curtailment.
    “In the summertime you want to be sure that all of your spring use is going to irrigation, and that the wells are providing for the domestic use,” said Petrich. “I think it’s important to begin thinking about what sources you’re using at what time.”
    Petrich recommended compiling and updating Bellevue’s water usage data, in order to develop a water-use plan for the area.
    “The more data that you have, the better platform to begin working from,” he said. “What will your mitigation strategies be? Will you be trying to meet a short-term mitigation requirement or a long-term requirement?”
    Petrich also suggested exploring water recharge options, as well as participation in possible regional solutions as part of the city’s conjunctive administration efforts. He encouraged the council to work with Hailey and other surrounding communities in creating a unified model for conjunctive management.
    The council was responsive to the idea of maximizing the use of the Seamon’s Gulch spring and making sure that Bellevue’s collection areas are being utilized effectively. Further assessments will be conducted with the local springs and wells, and compared with water-usage data.
    “We’ve got time to get the right thing done and be prepared,” said Craig Eckles, the city’s development services director. “We’re going to look at our collection areas and see how we can make them better.”
    SPF Water Engineering is an Idaho-based water and hydro-geologic consulting firm. SPF has provided water resource engineering and consulting services in the area for more than 15 years.

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