Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Idaho

Silverwood water park would tap aquifer
River, wave pools would need 10,000 gallons a day in summer

Becky Kramer
Staff writer

COEUR d'ALENE -- Silverwood Theme Park plans to tap into the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer to supply water to a 12-acre water sports park.

Filling up a new river, wave pools and other attractions would require about 1.4 million gallons of water. But once the park is full, the water would be filtered and re-used, park officials said.

"We expect to use about 10,000 gallons per day ... that's based on what we think the evaporation rate will be," said David Norton, park manager.

S
ilverwood plans to open the water park in June 2003. The amusement park near Athol submitted an application last week for water rights. In the application, Silverwood is requesting a flow of about 450 gallons per minute from a new well. If the park pumped continuously at that rate, it would withdraw nearly 1 million gallons per day from the aquifer.

The request comes as new aquifer withdrawals face increasing scrutiny. This week, the states of Idaho and Washington began planning a $3 million study of the aquifer, which flows from North Idaho to Eastern Washington, providing drinking water for 400,000 people.

The study was sparked by power companies' requests to withdraw up to 20 million gallons of water daily from the aquifer for use in gas-fired generation plants on the Rathdrum Prairie.

Silverwood doesn't plan to pump 1million gallons daily from the aquifer, Norton said. The new well's primary function would be supplying the water park, which would operate from June through August. The well also would be used to water the park's grounds.

"Nobody ever really diverts at their peak," said Al Beardslee, the Idaho Department of Water Resources' senior agent in Coeur d'Alene. In that sense, the 1 million figure is misleading, he said.

For comparison purposes, Silverwood's request is similar to the amount needed to irrigate 75 acres, Beardslee said.

The department will run a legal notice, advertising Silverwood's application for water rights. Anyone contesting the application has until July 22 to file a formal protest with the department.


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