May Water Update 5/28/2021

20th Anniversary Photo Contest
June 11, 2020
 

Dear Friends,

Our watershed is receiving some much needed precipitation here at the end of May after an abnormally dry spring.  As we look forward into the summer season, water is on our minds.

FTR field staff are monitoring the situation on the ground by measuring stream flows, monitoring fish migration and spawning, and supporting incidental recharge partners.
In the office, we are working to develop summer programs that keep our community informed and engaged on the state of our watershed.
And…along with the Teton Creek Collaborative Partners, we are excited to announce the opening of the Teton Creek Corridor Pathway over Memorial Day weekend!

 

 

 

 

Teton Water Update

 

 

Despite a pulse of precipitation, drought conditions persist in our region.  Teton County is currently classified as Abnormally Dry to Moderate Drought by the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center.  A long term forecast for warm and dry weather brings worries for water users, fish and wildlife, and recreationists in the Teton Valley.

 

 

 

How did we get here?

A dry fall in 2020 left us with low soil moisture.  Things looked better during mid-winter with snowfall near normal amounts.  March, April, and May were abnormally dry, and our snowpack melted slowly but early during the spring, causing seasonal snowpack to fall far behind normal by mid-May.  This combination of events brings us into the summer in drought conditions, like much of the West.  Even though the creeks are running and the valley is greening up, expect drought to impact our community in the hot and dry months ahead.

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more updates on our water supply this summer and ways to contribute to water conservation in our Valley.

 

 

 

 

Groundwater Recharge

Early season runoff creates an opportunity for water users in Teton Valley ​to manage water in a way that improves and enhances aquifer levels, an activity often referred to as groundwater recharge.  By encouraging water to seep into Teton Valley’s local aquifer in the spring, when water is abundant, water is retained in the Valley’s sponge-like aquifer serving to slow the water’s journey downstream by ~60-90 days. Managing water in this way increases the quantity of water in the Teton River in the later part of the summer when water becomes short, benefitting irrigators, wildlife, and fish.  By managing water in this way, Teton Valley’s irrigators are creating water resiliency throughout the region, something which is particularly valuable as severe drought conditions emerge throughout much of the West.  In Teton Valley, much of the groundwater recharge which occurs is termed incidental recharge.  This means that Teton Valley’s irrigators utilize their existing irrigation water rights to improve aquifer levels by diverting water into unlined canals and using flood irrigation methods.  These historic methods of water delivery, often thought of as wasteful, are incredibly effective at improving aquifer levels.

Did you Know?
Incidental recharge is the placement of water into an aquifer as a byproduct of another water related activity, such as irrigation or the diversion of water into an unlined canal.  This type of recharge occurs, incidentally, when managing water for other purposes, like the irrigation of crops.
Managed recharge is the intentional placement of water into an aquifer, such as diverting water into a designated site, like an open gravel pit, to allow seepage into an aquifer.  This type of recharge requires a water right that specifically authorizes the diversion of water for recharge.

 

 

 

Photo: Camrin Dengel

 

 

 

 

Teton Creek Corridor Opening 

 

 

 

The Teton Creek Corridor Pathway will be open to the public this Saturday, May 29th!   This gravel pathway creates a connection between Driggs (near Cottonwood Corner) and Stateline Road as well as providing users a connection to the riparian corridor and open space surrounding Teton Creek East of Driggs.  Project partners include Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, Teton Regional Land Trust, Friends of the Teton River, LegacyWorks Group, the City of Driggs, Teton County, Idaho, the LOR Foundation and an array of funders and other partners.

 

 

 

Check out this News Release for more information about the pathway project, parking, and rules!