Basin Studies Provide Options for Communities to Meet Future Water Needs in the Western United States

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Bureau of Reclamation's and Idaho Water Resources Board's Henrys Fork Basin Study Identifies Alternatives to Improve Water Supplies and Water Management in the Upper Snake River Basin in Idaho

Basin Studies are an important tool for Reclamation and its partners to have a clear understanding of the projected demands and supplies in local basins in the West.

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the latest in a series of river basin studies that examine the growing imbalance between available supply, increasing needs and projected demand due to climate change in the western United States.

Studies have been completed in the Colorado River Basin, Lower Rio Grande, Milk-St. Mary Rivers, Santa Ana Watershed, Yakima River and the most recently completed Henrys Fork Basin in southeastern Idaho.

"Basin Studies are an important tool for Reclamation and its partners to have a clear understanding of the projected demands and supplies in local basins in the West," Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. "Through collaboration, proposed solutions are developed to close the gap between supply and demand, especially in the light of climate change."

The Henrys Fork of the Snake River, located in eastern Idaho, provides irrigation water for more than 280,000 acres, sustains a world-class trout fishery and is home for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

The purpose of this basin study is to assist state and local planning efforts by exploring options for meeting the complex water supply and management challenges in the basin, meeting the goals of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan and Idaho State Water Plan, as well as identifying risks posed to water supply by climate change and opportunities to mitigate those risks.

Reclamation and the Idaho Water Resource Board prepared the Henrys Fork Basin Study while working with the Henrys Fork Watershed Council. The Henrys Fork Basin Study final report includes alternatives, which provide the Idaho Water Resource Board, and other interested stakeholders including conservation groups, irrigators, and other agencies options to meet the water demands in the future.

This basin study was conducted as part of WaterSMART. WaterSMART is the U.S. Department of the Interior’s sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand.

Basin studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist. Through these studies, Reclamation collaborates with non-federal cost-share partners to help ensure sustainable water supplies in the West.

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Peter Soeth
Bureau of Reclamation
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