Aquifer Protection


Use the archive below to learn more about LPRV aquifer protection issues and efforts. Select a topic from the list below and then CLICK to access.

If you need more information about managing and protecting your private well water supply visit this FAQ!


Blue Thumb Basics (Kid's Stuff)
Extended Treatment Systems
Hazardous Waste
Wellhead Protection Tools


About EPA's RGI Program
Program Characteristics
RGI Life-Cycle
The LPRV RGI Project


Physical Hydrology
Water Quality Impacts
Highway Pond
Sensitive Resource
Browse Full Presentation


Aquifer Schematic
Aquifer Water Balance
Aquifer Watershed
Contamination Sources
Groundwater Use: 1950-2000
Highway Pond
Pocatello Water Service Areas
TCE Plume Location
Underground Storage Tanks
Water Use Cycle

You can also learn more
about the LPRV aquifer
Sensitive Resource!

ABOUT AQUIFER PROTECTIONOur aquifer is a sole source resource that requires protection!

The Lower Portneuf River Valley aquifer supplies the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck with their sole source of drinking water. It is a relatively small aquifer located directly beneath these cities and is protected from the impacts of urban and suburban development primarily by the thin soils that lie above it. It has yielded very large quantities of low-cost water in the past, but is being increasingly affected by contamination and is in need of special protection to ensure a supply of affordable water in future.

The biggest water problems the lower Portneuf Valley faces in the future are from:

1) Insufficient capacity to meet demand.

2) Degradation of water quality.

Examples of the land-use activities that have been identified to be of greatest concern and that have had identifiable impacts on the lower Portneuf Valley's groundwater include:

1) Septic sewage.

2) Storm water and road runoff, which is currently not regulated, and causes chloride and other forms of contamination.

3) The handling and storage of hazardous materials, including fuels.

4) The practice of constructing floor drains to accept waste water in commercial facilities such as machine shops and service stations, which is currently is neither effectively regulated or inspected/enforced.

The threats which these classes of activities pose to lower Portneuf Valley groundwater are of two types:

1) The sudden appearance of contamination originating from a drain well, gravel pit or other 'point' source, which can shut down public supply wells on short notice.

2) A gradual deterioration of water quality, eventually making expensive water treatment measures necessary.

In either case, the result is costly remediation of the problem, to provide safe drinking water. The costs of addressing such problems in the past decade have been exceedingly high, and the familiar adage that "it is always cheaper to prevent ground water pollution than to clean it up" has real relevance in this valley. An informal compilation, constructed with the assistance of Pocatello, Chubbuck, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, documents the major costs incurred in remediating groundwater and soil contamination in the lower Portneuf Valley over the decade 1990-00. In comparison, costs associated with developing an understanding of aquifer dynamics, assembling existing information for planning purposes, and identifying possible future approaches to ground water protection are very small.

There are many types of approaches that can be taken to protect a ground water resource. The EPA created a compendium of protection measures which various communities have adopted around the country. They fall into various categories such as Regulatory (e.g. zoning, subdivision controls, health-related restrictions), Non-regulatory (e.g. land acquisition, voluntary restrictions), and Legislative (e.g. wellhead protection areas, special management areas such as a Sensitive Resource designation).

The EPA compendium has been examined by the Portneuf Ground Water Forum and winnowed to a list of potentially applicable types of management tools which could be adopted in the lower Portneuf Valley to enhance ground water protection. A preliminary list of such approaches will be recommended to local government as part of an EPA-funded effort to document existing information and provide guidance on ground water protection.

To date, threats posed by other activities such as gravel mining have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and have been resolved through the open exchange of information and cooperative development of management plans (as an example example, see the minutes of the Highway Pond Working Group meeting, June, 1999). It is hoped that special cases can be dealt with in future using the Highway Pond consensus approach as a template.

However, regardless of how protective methods are justified or which specific methods are proposed, none will achieve the goal of enhanced ground water protection unless adopted, implemented, and enforced. One of the impediments to adoption is that enhanced protection usually imposes stricter controls on land use. Also, since aquifers tend to cross political and jurisdictional boundaries, multi-agency cooperation must be secured prior to determining what protective measures and regulatory approaches must be considered.

Achieving protection for an underground water supply is a difficult and time-consuming process. Many people must become involved in, and assume responsibility for, becoming aware of their water supply situation, evaluating the need to protect it, and then making the decisions as to how to protect it.

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