Water is the lifeblood of Idaho's economic and environmental wellbeing and finding solutions to sustaining this valuable resource for future generations is at the cornerstone of the Henrys Fork Basin Study which is built on a solid partnership between the Bureau of Reclamation and the Idaho Water Resources Board.
For almost two years, Reclamation and IWRB have been meeting with a local workgroup under the umbrella of the Henrys Fork Watershed Council to discuss issues and find alternatives to meet state and local water needs in the categories of water storage, water conservation, water marketing and water optimization.
"This is an ongoing process that hopes to bring together those who might normally disagree, to realize that finding mutual ground is better for the greater good," said Bob Schattin,Reclamation activity manager.
In May, Reclamation will post on its Henrys Fork Basin Study website the last of the draft technical memos scheduled to be completed for the initial phase of the Study which outlines a number of alternatives to meet the basin's water needs.
Alternatives evaluated in the draft technical memos include surface water storage, expansion of existing water storage, water marketing, irrigation conservation, Teton Dam, municipal and industrial conservation, and managed recharge.
These technical memos address 17 ideas carried forward from an original list of over 40 ideas developed with the workgroup's input. They will provide Reclamation, the IWRB, and the local workgroup with more detailed information with the hope of settling on a package of alternatives which will be studied in greater detail.
"Public input is a necessary component to this process," Schattin said. "We will continue to engage members of the workgroup locally and others throughout the summer in an effort to produce an interim report."
The interim report, which is will be available in October, is the next major milestone for the Study because it will document the study process, and the decision processes that lead to the development of one or more proposed alternatives.
Once the interim report is completed, the final phase of the study will evaluate the proposed alternative and formulate recommendations. The final phase of the study will last approximately one year and culminate in a final basin study report due in 2013.
Outcomes and recommendations from the Henrys Fork Basin Study Report will drive future state, federal and local actions. One thing is certain, current study activities, are near the beginning of a long process.
For more information: Henrys Fork Basin Study - http://www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/studies/idaho/henrysfork/index.html