This report summarizes work carried out in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation to provide hydrologic information to help Federal, State, and local agencies meet the goals of the Lemhi River Model Watershed Project. The primary goal of the project is to maintain, enhance, and restore anadromous and resident fish habitat in the Lemhi River, while maintaining a balance between resource protection and established water uses. The main objectives of the study were to carry out seepage measurements to determine seasonal distributed gains and losses in the Lemhi River and to estimate annual ground-water underflow from the basin to the Salmon River. In 1997, seepage measurements were made during and after the irrigation season along a 60-mile reach of the Lemhi River between Leadore and Salmon. Except for one 4-mile reach that lost 1.3 cubic feet per second per mile, the river gained from ground water in early August when ground-water levels were high. Highest flows in the Lemhi River in early August were about 400 cubic feet per second. In October, when ground-water levels were low, river losses to ground water were about 1 to 16 cubic feet per second per mile. In October, highest flows in the Lemhi River were about 500 cubic feet per second, near the river's mouth. Annual ground-water underflow from the Lemhi River Basin to the Salmon River was estimated by using a simplified water budget and by using Darcy's equation. The water-budget method contained large uncertainties associated with estimating precipitation and evapotranspiration. Results of both methods indicate that the quantity of ground water leaving the basin as underflow is small, probably less than 2 percent of the basin's total annual water yield.
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USGS Numbered Series
Surface-water/ground-water relations in the Lemhi River Basin, east-central Idaho