Why is our aquifer so important?
Pocatello and Chubbuck are completely dependent upon the groundwater resources of our aquifer for ALL of their fresh water supplies. It is the only source of fresh drinking water available to us in the near future.
Our aquifer is very vulnerable to contamination for several reasons:
- urban, residential, industrial, and agricultural land uses with the potential to contaminate the water supply occur directly over the aquifer;
- water and contaminants from the ground surface can move quickly to the aquifer because there is minimal natural protection (shallow depth to water, thin soil cover, highly permeable gravels between the ground surface and the water table);
- numerous artificial sources of recharge associated with urban and residential land uses (drain wells, ditches, and septic drain fields) accelerate the movement of contaminants to the aquifer;
- the highly permeable aquifer allows contaminants to spread rapidly, making it difficult to clean up contamination once it has entered the aquifer.
What is contaminating or could contaminate our drinking water?
The cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck are mandated to maintain the quality of drinking water. For this reason, the cities regularly monitor the quality of their wells to ensure that contaminant levels are below the allowable legal limits. If contamination is found above the legal limit, they either shut down the well or clean the water that comes out of the contaminated well. Both of these options cost a lot of money. In Pocatello, Chubbuck, and North Bannock County, groundwater (your drinking water) is very vulnerable to contamination from:
- surface spills and leaks of chemicals and fuels
- underground spills and leaks from buried tanks and pipelines
- chemicals applied to the land for agricultural, industrial, or residential purposes
- unlined landfills
- illegal disposal and dumping
- animal wastes, including human waste from onsite septic systems
- pharmaceuticals and personal care products
- industrial or residential
- oil and grease
- home and lawn chemicals
- spills and leaks
Known Areas of Groundwater Contamination
There are known areas in Pocatello, Chubbuck, and North Bannock County where groundwater is already contaminated. Sources include unsewered subdivisions on the west and east benches of the valley, leaking underground storage tanks, industrial and manufacturing operations, and other spills or leaks. Several properties have land use restrictions prohibiting the installation of water wells due to residual levels of contamination.