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Aquifer recharge off to “roaring start”

Madison, Fremont and Teton County irrigators voted their water rights this week to create a new Henry’s Fork Ground Water District. The district will oversee recharge into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer under a settlement agreement between groundwater appropriators and the Surface Water Coalition (SWC).

The Idaho Water Resource Board expects to recharge 280,000 acre-feet of water into the aquifer this winter.

More than 90,000 acre-feet has been recharged since August 30.

“We’re off to a roaring start this year,” Wesley Hipke, recharge program manager for the board, said. “We’re doing better than we have in previous years at this time of year.”

More than 60,000 acre-feet of this year’s total comes from a donation of water by the SWC with most of the water being recharged in the Upper Snake River Valley. A recent water settlement between the SWC and groundwater users also will help restore aquifer levels by reducing groundwater pumping by 240,000 acre-feet per year.

Hipke said the board is working on adding capacity to the recharge program in several locations throughout the eastern Snake plain region.

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