Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing on S. 1570, the Aquifer Recharge Flexibility Act. The bill, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), would ease restrictions to allow for aquifer recharge through federal lands and facilities.
This will have a marked impact on the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer in Eastern Idaho, one of the largest aquifers in the world. Wesley Hipke, Managed Recharge Program Manager for the State of Idaho, was introduced by Risch and testified on the importance of aquifer recharge and the need for flexibility in the process.
“Water is absolutely critical, and one of the things that is relatively recent is recharge. It is incredibly important to us, particularly in Eastern Idaho where we have Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer…” said Risch. “We’ve become very efficient at drilling wells and taking water out of it in order to irrigate and do other things, so it’s important that we monitor that aquifer and that we recharge it where possible, and that’s what this bill is designed to do.”
“Idaho is at the forefront in developing large-scale managed aquifer recharge to actively manage groundwater aquifers. With the enactment of S. 1570 . . . we can continue to move forward using managed aquifer recharge as a significant water management tool in Idaho and other areas of the West,” said Hipke.
“In Idaho, and many other locations, aquifer recharge could require the use of Federal property, sometimes after a lengthy wait for congressional authorization. Reclamation provided technical assistance on this legislation, and we believe its new authorities will help reduce delays in using appropriate federal lands to recharge local aquifers,” said Brenda Burman, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.
To watch the video on YouTube, click here.
Background: The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer in eastern Idaho is one of the largest aquifers in the world, sustaining Idaho’s vital agricultural industry. Currently, bureaucratic barriers prevent effective recharge of this aquifer and others. The Aquifer Recharge Flexibility Act will cut red tape and allow for recharge on federal property to help restore the aquifer back to healthy levels for sustainable long-term use by farmers, ranchers, and communities across Idaho.