Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Consider county’s water future

Water seminar to be held at Community Campus on March 7


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

Trail Creek flows into the Wood River Valley last May, when low snowpacks led to a challenging year for water management. Photo by Roland Lane

   A daylong water seminar at the Community Campus in Hailey on Friday, March 7, will be packed with information on aquifer hydrology, water conservation methods and conjunctive management of groundwater and surface water.
    The seminar will be hosted by the nonprofit Wood River Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and University of Idaho Extension.
    The morning sessions will be for the public to be updated on a U.S. Geological Survey water-flow model study, and will explain why and how water calls will be made and what a groundwater district is and how it functions. Following that, a panel of experts will discuss strategies, mitigation and conservation as tools to address limited water resources. There will be time for questions.
    The afternoon session will be composed of practical, hands-on water-saving workshops in concurrent sessions, with participants choosing agricultural- or residential-based topics.
    The seminar’s schedule will be as follows:
•    9-9:45 a.m.—“Wood River Valley Aquifer and Hydrology” with Jim Barolino, USGS hydrologist. What it is, how it works, what changes are happening and the USGS/Idaho Department of Water Resources groundwater flow model.    
•    9:45-10:30 a.m.—“Idaho Conjunctive Management Rules and Groundwater District Formation” with Tim Luke, IDWR compliance bureau chief.
•    10:30-noon—Panel and questions: What conservation, mitigation or other strategies can we  implement to meet limited water resources and/or senior water right calls?  Panel:  Trish Klahr (moderator), Wendy Pabich (president, Water Futures), Mark Davidson (Trout Unlimited), Gary Beck (large agriculture manager), Kevin Lakey (District 37 water master), Tim Luke (bureau compliance chief, IDWR), Jim Bartolino (USGS hydrologist).
•    Noon to 1 p.m.—Lunch, included in registration fee. Informational tables: irrigation equipment and rebate, city of Hailey, Sawtooth Botanical Garden, rain-barrel harvesting, Idaho Power Co. and trout-friendly program.  
Concurrent sessions (choose one):
    Residential/Landscaping
•    1-1:50 p.m. “Drought-Tolerant Lawns and Gardens” with Steve Paulsen, restoration ecologist with Conservation Seeding and Restoration Inc., and Patti Lousen, Wood River Land Trust. Ideas, design and “how to” of lawn conversions, pathways and pollinator gardens.
•    2-2:50 “Residential Irrigation Audit” with Kodi Farnsworth. Irrigation design, retrofits and strategies to save 30-70 percent on landscaping water use.
    Agriculture
•    1-1:50 p.m. “Precision Circle Agriculture” with Bill Marek. The future of precision irrigation systems for pivots.
•    2-2:50 p.m. “Irrigation Efficiency Programs.” Idaho Power staff will talk about new programs and data regarding water and energy savings.
    Both
•    3-3:50 “Residential and Agricultural Pesticide Use” with Don Morishita, University of Idaho’s Kimberly Research & Extension Center (one credit available).

    Patti Lousen, project coordinator for the Wood River Land Trust, said the seminar evolved due to concerns that the community needs to explore collaborative ways to deal with conjunctive management, that water needs to be kept in the river for wildlife habitat and recreation, and that part of the valley’s limited water could be managed by the private market, which could have economic impacts on the whole community.
    “Since this is a new era of water administration, there is a lot of misinformation, lack of information and confusion,” Lousen said.
    The seminar costs $15 for those who register by Friday, Feb. 28, and $20 afterward. Cost includes coffee and lunch. Scholarships are available. Call 788-5585 to register.




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