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Groundwater management improvements to mitigate declining groundwater levels - a case study




Sauer, Brian, author
Temple, Dan, author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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The A&B Irrigation District in south-central Idaho supplies water to irrigate over 76,000 acres. The district's 14,660-acre Unit A is supplied with water from the Snake River. Unit B is comprised of 62,140 acres of land irrigated by pumping groundwater from the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) using 177 deep wells. Pumping depths range from 200 to 350 feet. Water from Unit B wells is distributed to irrigated lands via a system of short, unlined lateral canals averaging about 3/4-mile in length with capacities of 2 to 12 cfs. During the period from 1975 to 2005, the average level of the ESPA under the A&B Irrigation District dropped 25 ft and as much as 40 ft in some locations. This has forced the district to deepen some existing wells and drill several new wells. To help mitigate the declining aquifer, the district and its farmers have implemented a variety of irrigation system and management improvements. Improvements have involved a concerted effort by the district, landowners, and local and federal resource agencies. The district has installed variable speed drives on some supply wells, installed a SCADA system to remotely monitor and control well pumps, and piped portions of the open distribution laterals. This has permitted farmers to connect farm pressure pumps directly to supply well outlets. Farmers have helped by converting many of their surface irrigation application systems to sprinklers, moving farm deliveries to central locations to reduce conveyance losses, and installing systems to reclaim irrigation spills and return flows.


Presented at Ground water and surface water under stress: competition, interaction, solutions: a USCID water management conference on October 25-28, 2006 in Boise, Idaho.

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