"While some might think eastern Idaho is in need of additional surface
water storage, there are many alternatives that are safer, more cost
effective, faster to implement, and better for our natural resources
than rebuilding Teton Dam," says Kim Trotter, director of TU's Idaho
Water Project. "TU will continue to work with the agencies and other
stakeholders to identify these alternatives." Among the best options:
Aquifers. Idaho already has excellent ready-made storage available—in
natural aquifers. The Snake River Plain aquifer—an underground water
source the size of Lake Erie—offers several advantages: It's already
there, partially depleted, and could hold millions of gallons of water.
Storing water underground has the added benefits of minimizing
pollution and avoiding the tremendous evaporative losses of surface
Water banking, conservation. Other water supply options that should be
studied by Idaho include water banking, efficiency upgrades of
agricultural irrigation equipment and infrastructure, and municipal
water conservation. These are all commonsense, cost-effective
alternatives to building a major new dam.
And pursuing these more modest, incremental projects would give Idaho
water planners and communities greater flexibility of response in the
event of future changes in water demand and growth patterns.
What's more, the recently completed Comprehensive Aquifer
Management Plan for Eastern Idaho did not endorse additional surface
water storage in the Teton basin. In fact, hydrologic modeling
completed as part of the CAMP clearly showed that storage was not
necessary to meet the plan's water supply targets, which could be
achieved through demand reduction, aquifer recharge, and conversions
from ground to surface water sources.