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About Water and Aquifer

Hayden Lake Irrigation District

Hayden Lake Irrigation District procures your water from the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. This is a large body of underground water. The sources of the aquifer are precipitation (rain and snow), lakes (predominantly Hayden, Pend Oreille, Coeur d’Alene, Spirit, Twin and Hauser ) rivers and creeks (Spokane River, Rathdrum, Lewellen, Sage and other creeks).

The aquifer was formed 13,000 to 15,000 years ago by floods from Glacial Lake Missoula. Those floods carved the basin where the aquifer resides, and filled the basin with river flow type rocks, cobble and course gravels.

Water quality for the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, the Idaho portion of the larger Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, is generally excellent. Water purveyors are able to provide drinking water without any treatment. Hayden Lake Irrigation District does not perform any treatment or add any chemicals. However, some purveyors perform disinfection (chlorination). Certain areas of the aquifer exhibit higher levels of nitrates, arsenic and other minerals, but generally these levels still meet current drinking water standards. Routine analysis of the water at our wells has not detected these higher levels, however because the higher levels are found in some areas of the aquifer it is important for all users of the aquifer to be careful of what is applied to the ground.

The best ways to help protect the aquifer can be summed up in two statements:

  • If you wouldn’t want to drink it, don’t pour it on the ground.
  • Use the water wisely.

There have been numerous studies and scientific works completed about the aquifer. Links to some of these studies follow. There are several on-going groups that meet to discuss and work towards solution of issues which could affect our aquifer. The aquifer continues to be researched for use and quality concerns, with a goal to manage the water for the long term benefit of all the users, including aquatic life for the portions in Washington where the aquifer provides water to the Spokane River. If you want to know more, the following links are provided.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Panhandle Health District
USGS – Idaho – Washington Study and Model (note the downloadable file is large)

There are two documents; The USGS study is scientific, fairly technical, and very well written. The model is more technical in nature, but also very well researched and written.