More Pressure Being Put On Pumpers

Published online: May 04, 2005
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More pressure is being put on eastern Idaho groundwater pumpers as four trout farms along the Thousand Springs area on the north rim of the Snake River Canyon at Hagerman are putting in a call for water.

Most of the Thousand Springs have dried up over the past several years, partly due to the drought but also due to the fact more irrigators are not furrow irrigating any more but sprinkling. Sprinking doesn't return water to the aquifer.

Coming up with more water for the senior water rights holders along the canyon will be tough because the acquaculture industry cannot use water from the Snake River. Instead they use clear 58-degree F water from the springs.

The four trout farms have water rights going back to 1955 with the latest in  1969.

Eastern Idaho pumpers are already responsible for raising 128,700 acre feet of water out of the Snake River for senior water rights holders in the Twin Falls areas.

With warmer  temperatures already rapidly increasing water demand, cutting groundwater pumpers back 10 percent on their regular flows will have an affect on crops.

An owner of one of the four trout farms said as things stand now after a  determination by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, groundwater pumpers are receiving 100 percent of their water while the fish farms are receivng 15-40 percent.

Already groundwater pumpers, which includes 2,000 members affected by the Twin Falls canal companies' earlier calls for water, won't have to cut back on their pumping because they organized and bought or leased upper Snake River water to fill the decreed amount of 27,000-plus acre feet due Twin Falls irrigators.