What Does The DEIS Say About Impacts to Water?
The DEIS provides a detailed evaluation of the effects of the Project on water resources locally, and collectively throughout Idaho. The Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer reaches from Twin Falls to Fremont, Idaho, and is estimated to contain as much as 1 billion acre-feet of water. The Project will use approximately 303 acre-feet of water during the 2 year construction period. The 303 acre-feet of water used in construction comprises over 75% of the estimated total water used for the entire life of the Project. Water will be used for civil construction tasks like developing roads and work areas, dust abatement, reclamation, and batching concrete for turbine foundations. Once in operation, the project will have minimal ongoing water requirements. Water usage during operations would be below the de minimis threshold established under Idaho water law.
The water required to support construction activities will not add to the cumulative use of water in the region, drawing instead from previously permitted sources already allocated for use, such as those available through rental from the Water Supply Bank. Water rights can be leased from a willing seller near the project area. The seller would pause their water usage for the two-year period to allow for the needed water for construction.
Leasing water from a willing seller is not a new incremental use.
The DEIS found that over the whole 34-year Project, approximately 400 acre-feet will be used for the Project. The overall Project would draw down existing groundwater wells in proximity to Project wells less than one-half inch, which corresponds to less than 0.001% consumption on the Aquifer.
Putting The DEIS Analysis In Context
To help put the DEIS in context, comparing the amount of water used by the Project to other water uses in the area provides a useful comparison. The DEIS specifically points out that the total water used for the life of the Project is the same as the yearly use needed to irrigate a 135-acre alfalfa field. In an application for a water permit in Twin Falls, a local Magic Valley Manufacturing Company listed a water use rate of up to 6 acre-feet a day, which is over 2,000 acre-feet per year. The overall impact from the Project on the Aquifer is miniscule.
What Steps Will MVE Take To Protect The Aquifer?
Magic Valley Energy is committed to minimizing the use of groundwater and protecting the aquifer. Additionally, MVE will only use well drillers licensed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources to further protection of groundwater resources. With these measures implemented, no noticeable effects to groundwater resources are anticipated.