Our Klamath Basin
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Long-term water solutions
New or rebuilt dams, groundwater conversions among
February 22, 2008
officials are willing to look at just about anything
that might solve the state's long-term water
Possible solutions include building new dams,
raising the height of existing dams or even
converting a groundwater-based irrigation project to
surface water usage.
Idaho Department of Water Resources Director Dave
Tuthill said last month that it may be possible to
rebuild Teton Dam or raise the height of Minidoka
Dam, which would boost the water storage capacity at
Other possibilities include building new dams on the
Boise or Weiser rivers in Western Idaho, Tuthill
said at an irrigation meeting in Burley.
It isn't yet known whether any of those projects are
feasible, but the state should at least study the
possibilities, he said.
"It's time right now to look at some surface water
storage," Tuthill said.
The Idaho Water Resources Board also put out a
request late last year for proposals for a
preliminary engineering study to convert a portion
of the A&B Irrigation District from a groundwater
project to a surface water project.
The board is now in the process of reviewing those
The A&B Irrigation District isn't opposed to a
conversion project, but the district has lots of
questions, manager Dan Temple said.
A&B's board of directors expressed some of its
concerns in a letter to the state water board
earlier this week.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions," Temple
said. "The (A&B) board feels that those questions
need to be answered before they can get behind this
The A&B district delivers irrigation water to about
82,000 acres of farmland in the eastern part of the
The smaller unit A draws water from a
6,000-horsepower pumping plant on the Snake River.
The larger unit B draws water from the Eastern Snake
Plain Aquifer via nearly 180 deep wells.
Converting the A&B district to an all-surface water
project would have a positive effect on the ESPA
budget by reducing groundwater withdrawals, state
water officials said in their request for proposals.
The A&B board isn't in disagreement over the idea,
but there are a lot of issues to be worked out,
"If a conversion is to take place, the main concern
is where is that water supply going to come from?"
Beyond that, there are a host of other questions
that would have to be dealt with, he said. For
instance, who would pay for the project, and how
would rights-of-way be secured for a delivery
"We're definitely not opposed to it because it would
be a great deal, but we would like to have some of
those questions answered," Temple said.
Staff writer Dave Wilkins is based in Twin Falls,
Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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