CO Daily News and Prineville water policy

A few days ago Central Oregon Daily News ran a story on the “award winning” way the City of Prineville stores water by pumping it into an aquifer for later use. Aquifer recharge is a tool that is getting a lot more interest as our planet heats. Storing “excess” water in the ground for use later is conceptually a good idea. It is a lot less expensive and controversial than building new reservoirs. As usual, when it comes to water, however, the devil is in the details. I wrote about Prineville’s plan over a year ago and pointed out the serious ecological problems it creates for the Crooked River and the fish and wildlife that depend on it. Read the post for a longer discussion, but in summary, there is no excess water in the Crooked River. The aquifer being drawn down is naturally recharged in the winter when flows may be higher and the water is naturally released in the summer providing cool water when the river needs it. Pumping down that naturally recharged aquifer and moving the water to another “contained” aquifer for storage, water that is not released back into the river but is used by data centers, helps the Prineville economy and municipal water system but further degrades the Crooked River which has been on life support for many years.