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Aquifer recharge ahead of goals

The Idaho Water Resource Board expects to set a new record for recharging the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer this winter.

More than 220,000 acre-feet of recharge water has already flowed into the aquifer this winter, and recharge program manager Wesley Hipke said recharge could go as high as 370,000 acre-feet this year. The board’s goal is 250,000 acre-feet per year.

“We are way ahead of schedule this year,” said Hipke. “We have two-plus months left in the recharge season.”

The program benefited from a quick start in late August. A contribution from the Surface Water Coalition sent 61,100 acre-feet of surplus water into the system. Hipke said there was a big surplus of water stored in upper Snake River reservoirs. As a result, the Bureau of Reclamation released more than usual below Minidoka and Milner dams this winter.

More than 104,800 acre-feet of water has been recharged in the Upper Snake region and more than 113,700 acre-feet has been recharged in the Magic Valley region. Multiple canal companies and irrigation districts participated.

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