Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Groundwater study is on schedule

Model of flows in region scheduled to be done next year

Express Staff Writer

    Almost a year after it was begun, a model of groundwater flow in the Wood River basin is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2015.
    “We’re on time, things are looking good and we’re making progress,” said James Bartolino, a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Idaho Water Science Center in Boise.
    The model is intended to help manage the valley’s water, especially in regard to conjunctive administration, which is combined management of groundwater and surface water. Bartolino said it will help guide the Idaho Water Resource Board’s 50-year management plan for the basin.
    Bartolino said researchers creating the model are gathering data that include the locations of wells, how much water each is pumping and how deep they’re pumping, as well as on when irrigators are using groundwater and when they’re using surface water.
    He said scientists are also involved in fine-tuning variables such as the permeability of the aquifer.

We’re trying to represent how the aquifer works and quantify it.”
James Bartolino
U.S. Geological Survey

    “We’re trying to represent how the aquifer works and quantify it,” he said.
    The effort is being guided by a technical advisory committee composed of representatives from valley cities, irrigators and conservation groups. Bartolino said the USGS and Department of Water Resources team has been meeting with between 10 and 30 members of the committee every other month since April.
    Last fall, the Department of Water Resources combined the Big Wood and Little Wood drainages into one district, No. 37, and included groundwater in the district. The Department of Water Resources has stated that even though the groundwater model will help conjunctive management, water delivery calls on groundwater users by downstream surface water users could be initiated before the model is completed.
Greg Moore:

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