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Pocatello taps into Groundwater Protection Week

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POCATELLO, Idaho - Today kicks-off the statewide observance of Groundwater Protection Week, and the city of Pocatello is using this as an opportunity to teach the community how to keep its water supply healthy.

The city's Water Department Pre-Treatment Technician Mikel Driever said water engineers have been busy keeping pollution out of the city's water supply, treating about eight million gallons of water each day.

Although the water that flows into the treatment plant doesn't directly impact the water we drink, it flows back into the Portneuf River, which can then impact the aquatic life and the irrigation systems that water the plants we eat.

"People use it for irrigation for crops, it can flow into other people's we can't pollute that because whatever we use has to go back in," Driever said. "We only have the same amount of water we'll always have here on Earth."

The Water Department's Archie Sheppard said this morning's aquifer measurements show the water level has dropped by ten feet this year, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He said that, despite the low snowfall, with this past year's abundance of moisture will fill the aquifer back up again in due time.

"It's not too big of a concern because our water charts show our moisture levels come in at 120 percent, while north of Blackfoot, they're only getting about 46 percent which is pretty bad," Sheppard said.

Sheppard added that back in the 1950s, everything being dumped into the county landfill was toxic and was seeping into the aquifer's drinking water. 

"When we discovered this, we had to do something immediately and so our only course of action was to shut those three wells off and get water from other resources throughout town," he said.

However, now that the pollution from the landfill has been cleaned-up, those three wells have been reopened.

There are 22 water wells in Pocatello.

Driever also noted the pollution levels have been decreasing over the years, thanks to programs such as this one, so that the community understands what they can and cannot pour down their drains.

"You cannot pour grease or oil down any drains or into any sewers because that comes back to us," Driever said. With grease and oil as two of the biggest culprits of the pollution problem, it's hard to clean during the treatment process before it gets poured back into the Portneuf River.

The displays will be available all week long and open for the community to come in and visit at the city's water facility on 1889 N. Arthur Ave. from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and on Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

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