[Vision2020] Emergency ordinance information

Chris Storhok cstorhok at co.fairbanks.ak.us
Fri May 13 19:14:57 PDT 2005

Thank you for bringing up the research; a lot of you discuss below is true,
however as you well are aware the aquifer system under this area is not a
classic saucer that forms basically one large subterranean "lake".  You
mention below the visible ridges such as Moscow Mountain, Buffalo Hump, and
Paradise Ridge, it has been shown that there may be several ridges buried
beneath the surface that divide the basins into many sub-basins.  The net
effect of this division is that instead of a classic layer cake, your cake
has intrusions everywhere that separate each system.  North of town (in the
area of the Naylor Farms) there is evidence that this area is not over a
20,000 static pool of Grande Rhonde aquifer but instead over a ancient large
river channel that serves to guide a tremendous amount of subsurface water
northwest toward Colfax.  This water cannot recharge the  portions of the
Grande Rhonde that serves both Moscow and Pullman because it cannot reach
that "pool" due to a probable ridge.  Several residential wells in this
vicinity as well as the drilling results from the Naylor's show over and
over again that this region is unique from Moscow.  For this reason I really
do support the Naylor's connectivity testing as laid out in the protocol.
If Naylor is wrong and there really is a connected "pool", you know as well
as I do they must abandon their efforts and cap the well.  If Naylor is
right, then there is a new source of water for Moscow that can be tapped.  
One nice little piece of scientific evidence that you keep flashing before
is the "age" of the water.  I have never believed that the age is right
since the water must percolate through sediments carrying 15,000 to 20,000
year old carbon sources (and hence pick up the carbon 14 signature used to
determine the waters age).  I would imagine you have brewed many a pot of
coffee, the effect is the same - if I had a source of 20,000 year old coffee
beans and brewed a cup I could tell you right now the isotopic signature of
that cup would be 20,000 years old.

On too mining...As you stated below, there are several layers of clays,
sand, gravel, and so forth that separate the Wanapum and Grande Rhonde
aquifer preventing water from passing down.  The same is true below the
Canfield-Roger deposit. Below the commercially valuable clays there are up
to hundreds of feet of non-commercially valuable clays, silts and so forth
that prevent water from seeping down.  As many of your referenced papers in
a later email points out, the Wanapum aquifer is mostly recharged near the
base of Moscow Mountain, Buffalo Hump and Paradise Ridge.  Mining can (and
has) taken place on this deposit without affecting the aquifer, I am sure it
can again.  
One other side note, you mentioned possible contamination of each aquifer,
would not the proposed idea of injecting surface water into the aquifer
carry the same (or greater) risk?

I really hope that the city and the county take a look at plans that date
back to the 1930's for construction of a series of small reservoirs that
could hold runoff.  The city could run water lines to these reservoirs into
a treatment plant and then into the drinking water system.

I do want to bring up one more point, as someone who lived for years north
of town and had a private well (i.e. I had to pay for the electricity to
pump all the water I consumed) I learned that through proper lawn watering a
person could maintain a somewhat green yard without using much water - if
you balance it right you won't have to mow after mid-June.

I do agree with you Mark, this is a very important issue for Moscow, I just
have issues with the approach of prohibit this and prohibit that.  The
conditional use permit system, its hearings, public comment and so forth
really does work; I just wish that people could trust elected officials and
boards to ensure the process does work.

Have a great weekend


Chris Storhok
North Pole, AK  


-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Solomon [mailto:msolomon at moscow.com]
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 7:13 AM
To: Chris Storhok; 'vision2020 at moscow.com'
Subject: RE: [Vision2020] Emergency ordinance information


Let's take it from the top, geologically and 
hydrogeologically speaking. Research studies 
reported in Soil Sciences and Geoderma (two 
leading scientific journals in the soils 
discipline) conclude that recharge to groundwater 
on the Moscow Sub-Basin is for all intents and 
purposes not happening via precipitation falling 
on the loess soils (O'Geen, 2003, 2005). 58% of 
the Moscow Sub-basin is composed of layered 
sediments identified as the Latah Formation (Bush 
and Pierce 1998). These sediments generally lie 
between the granitic uplands of Moscow Mountain, 
Buffalo Hump and Paradise Ridge. They were formed 
over time as successive Columbia River Flood 
Basalts flooded in from the west temporarily 
damming the natural stream flows rising from the 
granitic margins. Those streams deposited 
granitic sands and gravels eroded from the 
uplands. Eventually, the streams would find an 
exit from the dammed area and a stream channel 
would define itself. Soils and clays would then 
form on the new land to each side of the stream 
channels. Then, the basalts would flood in again 
and the whole process would repeat. The older 
Grande Ronde Formation is composed of four such 
flows, itself sitting on to of even older flows. 
The more recent Wanapum Formation is composed of 
two flows. (I'll send anyone that wants the pages 
of references that boil down to this paragraph).

That's a lot of layers in the cake. Generally, 
the paleostream sands and gravels are where water 
is found. They are also the most likely pathway 
for water to enter the basalt formations that 
provide the vast majority of water upon which the 
people, community and economy of the Moscow area 
rely. The deep Grande Ronde aquifer waters are 
age dated at 10,000 to 25,000 years old 
indicating little to no recharge through the 
sediments. There is a virtually impermeable layer 
of clay between the Wanapum and Grande Ronde 
Formations that prevents water vertically moving 
between the two. The result is an almost 
continuous decline in static water levels in 
Grande Ronde wells.

We know from City of Moscow well records that the 
Wanapum basalts do recharge over time. Pre-1960, 
Moscow drew all its water from the Wanapum, 
resulting in a precipitous decline in water 
levels by the time the first Grande Ronde wells 
were drilled in an effort to take the pressure 
off the Wanapum. It worked... for a while. Water 
levels "rebounded" over the next 30 years. Then 
the City outgrew its Grande Ronde supply and 
resumed Wanapum pumping. Wanapum levels are on 
their downward slide again. Assuming the current 
PBAC agreements to hold Grande Ronde pumping 
level in an attempt to stabilize water levels is 
maintained, all increased Moscow water demand 
will necessarily be supplied from the Wanapum.

Recap: 23,000 people in the Moscow Sub-basin rely 
exclusively on groundwater for their water 
supply. The Grande Ronde aquifer shows no known 
recharge and is steadily declining. The Wanapum 
aquifer does recharge and likely receives the 
majority of its recharge through the coarse 
sediments (sand and gravels) of the Latah 
Formation via paleostream deposits that connect 
to the granitic uplands.

Digging a hole ("mining"), especially into the 
water bearing sands and gravels, poses a 
significant risk to the recharge flow path to the 
Wanapum aquifer. Digging a hole also removes the 
natural buffer of the soils and clays that 
protect the sands and gravels from contamination. 
Likewise, siting activities that produce water 
pollutants in the areas of the most likely 
recharge potential (those with the highest ratio 
of sands and gravels to soils and clay) is 
inviting future groundwater contamination.

Add all that up and you have the scientific basis for the draft ordinance.

Some specific points you've raised: Dairies and 
livestock are not prohibited until they exceed 
100 animal units (See definition in the 
ordinance). That would be 50 horses, 100 cow/calf 
pairs, 200 sheep, etc). While that number is 
somewhat arbitrary, the taskforce felt that it 
provided enough room for exactly the type of 
small dairy or livestock operation while 
balancing it against the risk to the sub-basin 
water supply. No permit would be needed for less 
than 10 animal units.

The Idaho Legislature amended the Land Use 
Planning Act this winter to require that 
landscape irrigation be watered from surface 
water sources before groundwater is so utilized. 
The draft ordinance incorporates that requirement 
for all new residential development. Given that 
water conservation is the cheapest and easiest 
"new" source of water, the draft addresses how 
groundwater is applied to outdoor irrigation. 
Common sense is liberally applied with phrases 
such as "to the maximum extent practicable" and 
encouragement of precipitation collection and 
reuse for irrigation needs.

Let the discussion continue!

Mark Solomon

At 5:56 PM -0800 5/12/05, Chris Storhok wrote:
>I know I will get nuked by you water extremists for what I about to write
>but I feel very strongly that this proposed ordinance is based on fear and
>ignorance and certainly not science, reason, basic free market principles,
>and representative government - all of which are theoretical principles of
>this nation that we live in.
>   First off, to ban mining on the Canfield-Rogers deposit (a world
>kaolin deposit) is extreme.  The entire deposit lies in this zone and would
>be off limits to everyone from the Naylors to artists who may want the fine
>clay for pottery.   The deposit has been successfully mined off and on for
>110 years and has produced clays that were used in the bricks to build
>Moscow, fine tiles in buildings around the US, fine porcelain china, and so
>forth.  The deposit is one of the premier kaolin deposits in the US and to
>out and out stop any future mining from it is extreme.  The anti-mining
>of this committee shows and it is really ashamed that they are using fear
>water shortages to stop any future mining activities.  Mining should be a
>conditioned use.  This same area may have sand and gravel deposits as well
>that are commercially viable.  Again, only extremists who do not are afraid
>to understand something, or are so prejudiced that they are unwilling to
>understand or even reason with someone promote these types of bans.  For
>members of a university town to promote such a ridiculous action amazes me
>(the alternative is that Michael Savage is right - who really wants that). 
>This same proposed ordinance will ban dairies, again there was a long
>history of dairies in the county; past markets have forced their closure,
>but who is to say that a change in markets will not again favor smaller
>local dairies (organic wholesome Palouse milk? - no chance if this thing
>I would suggest that all these so prohibited uses be placed in the
>conditional use category.  If a proposed conditional use cannot meet the
>standards then it will not happen anyway.   
>5.02.08 dictates what type of lawn a homeowner should have, how you
>landscape the yard, the need for a landscape irrigation system and much to
>my amazement even goes so far as to direct what type of washing machine
>be used by a homeowner.  This is absolutely gone way to far and is clearly
>authoritarian and (and God forbid I use this phrase but I cannot help it)
>un-American in its approach. 
>I would strongly suggest that this committee wait until the nature of the
>aquifer is better understood through the study grant that the County will
>receive from IDWR before asking the county to adopt this ordinance. 
>It really is ashamed that such fear has taken over what should be a
>community open to logical reasoned discussions.  If there is one thing I
>learned, a open public discussion where all parties can present testimony,
>facts, opinion, rebuttal and the like is far superior to outright
>prohibitions and bans.  I really hope that those of you who are still
>reacting to the Naylor Farm proposal, issues surrounding the aquifer, and
>growth/sprawl can take a step back for a minute from your positions and
>honestly ask yourselves is your position based on facts or just plain fear
>and prejudice. 
>Have a wonderful evening,
>Chris Storhok 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: vision2020-bounces at moscow.com
>[mailto:vision2020-bounces at moscow.com]On Behalf Of london at moscow.com
>Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2005 4:56 PM
>To: vision2020 at moscow.com
>Subject: [Vision2020] Emergency ordinance information
>As many of you know, the Latah County Board of Commissioners adopted an
>emergency land use ordinance March 2, 2005 titled "Moscow Sub-basin
>Groundwater Management Overlay Zone".  Following the adoption of this
>emergency ordinance, the Board appointed a 7 member taskforce, representing
>a variety of backgrounds and interests, to develop a permanent ordinance.
>This taskforce has formulated a rough pre-draft of the ordinance and wants
>to receive public comment on this draft before formulating a rough draft
>that will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and, eventually, the
>of County Commissioners for public hearings.
>This document, and the associated map, can be located at:
>http://www.latah.id.us/    To get to the ordinance and the map, scroll down
>a bit and two links titled "Draft Land Use Ordinance for the Moscow
>Sub-basin Region" and "Proposed Moscow Sub-basin Area, including the
>watershed/hydrology (HUCS), the areas with exposed bedrock, and the areas
>between 2700-2900 feet in elevation showing steam locations" are located at
>the bottom of a gray box titled "Commissioners Enact Emergency Land Use
>Ordinance".  Click on those links to see the document and map.
>To submit comments, send an e-mail to pb at latah.id.us or write to the task
>force at:  Latah County Taskforce, Department of Planning and Building,
>Box 8068, Moscow, Idaho, 83843.  If you have questions, call the Planning
>and Building Department at 883-7220.  Comments are welcome at anytime,
>however, submission of comments prior to June 13th, 2005 would be very
>helpful in the development of this ordinance.
>The next scheduled meeting for the taskforce is Monday, June 13th, 2005, in
>Room 2-B of the Latah County Courthouse.
>  List services made available by First Step Internet,
>  serving the communities of the Palouse since 1994.  
>                http://www.fsr.net                      
>           mailto:Vision2020 at moscow.com

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