U.S. Water News Online
TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Future growth in southern Idaho is
tied directly to water conservation and protection from pollution as
river flows decline and groundwater levels drop, the head of the
region's water policy panel warns.
``How far we need to go depends on how much we want to use that
water,'' said Lew Pence, chairman of the Middle Snake Water Resource
The multi-county water policy board has noted marked progress in
the quality of the river but recently revised its water supply and
protection plan to include groundwater because of concerns that it
will become polluted.
The commission outlined a groundwater policy that encourages
better state accounting of groundwater use, conservation techniques,
aquifer recharge sites and recognition that seepage from the canal
systems does much to sustain the aquifer.
But environmentalists offer an opposing viewpoint.
Bill Sedivy, executive director of Idaho Rivers United, welcomes
progress in cleaning up the Middle Snake River. But he suggests the
next hurdle is to change from thinking every drop of water in the
river should be used to an attitude that considers leaving water in
the river as a beneficial use, too.
Balthasar Buhidar, the Department of Environmental Quality
scientist who wrote the river's pollution reduction plan, said the
amount of water in the Snake affects the level of pollution so that
``the more water I can get in here, the better for the river as a
But he also believes this year's low flows have forced a
discipline in managing the river that will ultimately benefit its
quality in the future.
Bob Muffley, who heads the Middle Snake commission, maintained
that the water in the river should be used to its full extent above
Milner Dam, where the river is diverted for irrigation. Any increase
in flows should come from recharging the aquifer and the springs that
feed the river, he said.
``I would never want to see water coming over Milner Dam unless
it's used first,'' Muffley said.
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