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Ground-water budgets for the Wood River valley aquifer system, south-central Idaho, 1995-2004

Ground-water budgets for the Wood River valley aquifer system, south-central Idaho, 1995-2004

Scientific Investigations Report: 36

The Wood River valley contains most of the population of Blaine County and the cities of Sun Valley, Ketchum, Haley, and Bellevue. This mountain valley is underlain by the alluvial Wood River Valley aquifer system which consists of a single unconfined aquifer that underlies the entire valley, an underlying confined aquifer that is present only in the southernmost valley, and the confining unit that separates them. The entire population of the area depends on ground water for domestic supply, either from domestic or municipal-supply wells, and rapid population growth since the 1970s has caused concern about the long-term sustainability of the ground-water resource. To help address these concerns this report describes a ground-water budget developed for the Wood River valley aquifer system for three selected time periods: average conditions for the 10-year period 1995-2004, and the single years of 1995 and 2001. The 10-year period 1995-2004 represents a range of conditions in the recent past for which measured data exist. Water years 1995 and replaced. In other words, despite restoration of water to ground-water storage in wet years, changes have occurred in either recharge and (or) discharge to cause ground-water storage to decline over time. Such changes may include, but are not limited to: lining or abandoning canals and ditches, conversion of surface-water irrigation rights to ground-water rights, changes in location of diversion points, changes in irrigation method and efficiency, increased consumptive use by evaporation or evapotranspiration, and long- or short-term climatic change. Estimates were made of evapotranspiration (consumptive use), simulated irrigation, and deep percolation for a 1-acre parcel for each of 14 land-use classifications in the Wood River valley. The mean evapotranspiration rate for urban land uses generally is less than for agricultural land uses, mean simulated irrigation for urban land uses is less than for agricultural uses, and the volume of deep percolation (recharge) tends to be larger for urban land uses. Most urban land uses in the Wood River valley generally are estimated to have slightly less consumptive water use than agricultural uses. However, many other factors influence the ultimate effects of the conversion of agricultural land to urban uses and may have greater effects on the aquifer system by the redistribution or reduction of recharge.

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