Ground-water quality in Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, and part of Power counties, southeastern Idaho

Water-Resources Investigations Report 79-14
Prepared in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources
By:  and 



This report provides information about the current quality of ground waters in southeastern Idaho and discusses the natural and manmade environmental controls on that quality. This information will be useful in planning and monitoring the development and use of the ground-water resources of southeastern Idaho.

The southeastern corner of Idaho, as described in this report, encompasses an area of about 4,000 mil in Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, and part of Power Counties. The popu- lation of the area in 1975, based on best estimates by the Idaho Division of Budget, Policy Planning, and Coordination (1976) was 75,200. About 80 percent of the population is in and near the city of Pocatello, which is the second largest population center in the State.

Pocatello's economy depends largely on manufacturing and industrial processing, which includes chemicalfertilizer plants. The econ- omy in the rural areas depends largely on agriculture--both dry and irrigated farming are practiced. Mining is important and expected to dominate the economy in the eastcentral part of the area in the future.

Natural resources include phosphate ore, which makes up about 35 percent of the U.S. reserves (U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1977); ground water, which mostly underlies the several intermontane valleys that dissect the area; and hot springs, which indicate that geothermal energy sources may underlie part of the area. Also, current (1978) speculation is that petroleum reserves may be present in the vicinity of Bear Lake. Development of more sprink- ler-irrigated lands, increases in population, and growth of phosphate mining are expected to place stress on the ground-water resources, both in quality and quantity. 

The purpose of this report is to present the results of a study whose primary objectives were (1) to provide current waterquality data representative of the water in several different aquifers (water- bearing formations) in the study area, and (2) to relate these data to natural and manmade environmental controls. The wells sampled during this study establish a quasi-network, which could be resampled in the future to document and analyze changes (if any) in ground-water quality. Based on this information, planners and water managers could better understand the causeand-effect relations controlling water quality and could better manage land and water-resource development.

The report is designed for ease of reading and presentation. It uses maps, tables, and abbreviated text to describe geology, hydrology, and ground-water quality and how they are interrelated. Some practical ways for improving water quality are discussed for the benefit of individual water users. The field data collected in making the study are contained in the Data Section of this report.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the many individual well owners, municipal officials, and private industries that provided well information and allowed access to their properties and collection of water samples. Without their help, this work could not have been done. Water samples were collected at 103 well sites. Waterlevel measurements were made at 98 of these sites during July, August, and September of 1976. 

This study was made by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources. A similar study is being made (1978) in north Idaho. Other studies are planned, specifically to obtain ground-water-quality data in areas where land and water-resource development is expected or accelerating.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ground-water quality in Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, and part of Power counties, southeastern Idaho
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 79-14
DOI 10.3133/wri7914
Year Published 1979
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description vii, 53 p.
Country United States
State Idaho
County Bannock County, Bear Lake County, Caribou County, Power County
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