The northern part of the Salmon Falls Creek basin, referred to as the Salmon Falls tract, contains a large acreage of good agricultural land, but the surface-water supply is inadequate to develop the area fully. Attempts to develop ground water for irrigation have been successful only locally. Specific capacities of wells drilled for irrigation and for test purposes ranged from less than 0.5 to 70 gallons per minute per foot of drawdown. The surface-water supply averages 107,000 acre-feet annually, of which about 76,000 acre-feet is diverted for irrigation.
The Idavada Volcanics, the most widespread and oldest water-bearing formation in the Salmon Falls tract, consists of massive, dense, thick flows and blankets of welded silicic tuff with associated fine- to coarse-grained ash, clay, silt, sand, and gravel. Fault zones and jointed rock yield large amounts of water to wells, but massive nonjointed units yield little water. Sand, tuff, and ash beds yield moderate quantities of water. Clay, sandy clay, sand, and pea gravel occur in topographic lows on the Idavada Volcanics. The finegrained sediments yield little water to wells, but the gravel yields moderate quantities.
Vesicular porphyritic irregularly jointed olivine basalt flows, which overlie the Idavada Volcanics, underlie almost all the Salmon Falls tract. Lenticular fine-grained sedimentary beds as much as 15 feet thick separate some of the flows. Joints and contacts between flows yield small to moderate amounts of water to wells.
Alluvial and windblown deposits blanket most of the tract. Where they occur below the water table, the alluvial deposits yield adequate supplies for stock and domestic wells. Perched water in the alluvium along Deep Creek supplies some stock and domestic wells during most years.
Ground-water supplies adequate for domestic and stock use can be obtained everywhere in the tract, but extensive exploration has discovered only five local areas where pumping ground water for irrigation is presently economically feasible. About 8,000 acre-feet was withdrawn for all uses in 1960.
Natural discharge of ground water is northward -- toward the Twin Falls South Side Project and the Snake River--and is provisionally estimated to be 115,000 acre-feet annually.
Ground water in the Salmon Falls tract has a medium- to high salinity hazard and a low sodium hazard. The salinity does not appear to affect crops presently grown in the tract.
The southern part of the Salmon Falls Creek basin, referred to as the upper drainage basin, has little agricultural development and is used mostly for grazing livestock. Silicic volcanic rocks and tuffaceous sedimentary rocks of Tertiary age and alluvial deposits yield water to livestock, domestic, and commercial wells.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of the Salmon Falls Creek basin, Idaho-Nevada