Milepost 31 Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer recharge

The Idaho Water Resource Board's Milepost 31 Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer recharge site.

A new embankment adjacent to an aquifer-recharge site will prevent flooding of a dirt road and livestock fence on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property.

The Idaho Water Resource Board Oct. 13 approved the project on the north side of the Milepost 31 recharge basin near Eden. Construction is expected to take place this fall and winter to allow the board to maximize recharge flows into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.

The board aims to recharge at least an annual average of 250,000 acre-feet of water into the aquifer each year to restore the aquifer to sustainable levels.

The recharge site is one of the most productive on the Eastern Snake Plain, which stretches from Shoshone to St. Anthony.

The embankment will allow a recharge rate of up to 650 cubic feet per second of water into the 322-acre basin. The board said in a news release that without the embankment it would have to maintain a flow of 350 cfs.

Wesley Hipke, the board’s ESPA recharge manager, said in a press release the embankment would need to be about 350 feet long and 14 feet tall to prevent flooding of the BLM road and cattle fence.

“The BLM has given us a notice to proceed," he said. "This is their preferred solution.”

The board said the project will ensure that it meets the terms of its easement with BLM.

The project is expected to cost about $320,000 for the embankment as well as road and fence repairs. The board had set aside a $500,000 contingency fund to cover any costs related to recharge operations this fiscal year.

ESPA recharge operations have started for the 2020-21 winter season for the Upper Snake region, with about 28,000 acre-feet recharged at five upper-valley sites. The recharge flows are part of a total of 58,330 acre-feet that the Surface Water Coalition is donating to the board this season to help restore the aquifer.

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