The city of Aspen is moving full-speed toward much heavier use of geothermal energy – underground hot water – for heating buildings and clearing the sidewalks of snow. But first, it needs the water rights.
A state engineer has indicated that the state probably will okay those rights, but that determination would have to come through water court. The firm Rocky Mountain Water Consulting LLC was hired to develop a report for that presentation. [see Aspen (CO) Times, August 31]
State water managers have extended for another five years a moratorium on geothermal ground water in the Twin Falls area, the Idaho Department of Water Resources announced August 17.
The moratorium was originally put in place in 1987 after IDWR officials determined the geothermal ground water system was experiencing a significant decline in artesian pressure. IDWR extended the moratorium three times in 1992, 1997, and again in 2002.
Data collected during the past 20 years indicates that, although the rate of decline in artesian pressure has slowed, it has yet to fully stabilize.
The moratorium essentially stops issuance of permits for any new water right development, and limits development of existing permits for the heated water coming from the geothermal aquifer. The aquifer covers an area of approximately 140 square miles around Twin Falls south of the Snake River.
The College of Southern Idaho petitioned IDWR on June 12, to extend the moratorium for another five years to protect the aquifer and to allow additional technical data to be collected. Aquifer conditions have not changed since the last public meeting about the issue in June 2002, and the Department has not received a request to schedule a new public meeting.
This moratorium takes effect today and expires after another five-year period on Sept. 1, 2012. Any petition for reconsideration or exceptions to this order, or a request for hearing must be filed with the Department on or before Aug. 31.
Contact:?Bob McLaughlin ?(208) 287-4828 Idaho Department of Water Resources