A growing Eastern Idaho has forced planners to take a look at water and how to continue to make it flow. What are city and water resource professionals doing to keep the state hydrated?
“Bottom line, is that water is a finite resource and as we seek to grow our state,” Idaho Falls Mayor, Rebecca Casper, said. “To bring in more people, more business, more industry we have to find the water to do that with.”
Planners, officials, developers, water experts, and more met at a public symposium to discuss some water issues Eastern Idaho may face.
“We’re talking about ways to do recharge and solutions to help our cities to grow and help our water situation overall,” said Chris Pratt, President, Recharge Development Corporations.
There are a lot of uses for water in the state.
“We coexist,” Casper said. “The cities do, with an agriculture based economy in other parts of Idaho.”
Aquifer levels have been declining slowly over time. The lack of water is not only an agriculture problem, but business too.
“If we don’t have the water available, we meaning any particular city, there may be a city down the road or a city in another state that will,” Casper said. “So there is some competition for business, water intensive business.”
What water resource professionals are looking to do is stabilize the aquifer and recharge it to build up levels for future growth.
“The next step is to recharge the aquifers and to build the infrastructure,” Pratt said. “So we have our big water years we can build our aquifer levels so that there will be there for growth.”
Some of the options they are looking at: saving some water from the river that spills out of the state, re-using the cities waste water, and build a bigger aquifer capacity to store the water.
And although these problems might not be big now, the city is still looking ahead and planning.
“We have our work cut out for us, because the projections are not great,” said Casper.