Hydrology of the Nez Perce Reservation
The Clearwater Plateau is a hydrologic sub-basin of the greater Columbia River Basin. Defining the Sub-basin are four watersheds drained by the four major rivers on the Plateau: the Clearwater, drained by the Clearwater River; the South Fork Clearwater, drained by the South and Main Forks of the Clearwater River; the Lower Salmon, drained by the Salmon River; the Lower Snake Tucannon, drained by the Snake River. The Sub-basin's largest watershed is the Clearwater, which drains nearly 60 percent of the Sub-basin's runoff. Recharging the drainage systems are small streams and creeks of higher topographic relief, and surface runoff through alluvial deposits.
The ground water systems within the Clearwater Sub-area occur in both regional and local flow systems, under confined and unconfined conditions. The Columbia River Basalt aquifers are by far the most significant source of ground water in the Sub-area. Other locally important sources of water are found in the highly productive, but limited, alluvial valley aquifers, and the widespread but low yield older basement rocks. The major water producing zones within the basalt occur in the sedimentary interbeds, through the porous rubble zones at the bottom and top of basalt flows, and in fractures.
Water plays the most important role in sustaining life on Earth. The nature of water puts it above all natural resources, however because water is such a necessary part of everyday life, it is often neglected and abused.
Being that the Nez Perce Reservation and surrounding areas are major agricultural regions, its water is an invaluable resource. In order to maintain agricultural productivity, utilization of the water resources for irrigation is necessary. Water also is utilized as a resource for hydroelectricity, recreation, drinking, and sustenance of bio/eco habitats. The Plateau's climate however limits recharge of the available ground and surface water systems. This poses a distribution and utilization problem, requiring proper management.
To further investigate the hydrology and water resources of the Nez Perce Reservation, follow the links below.
Hydrology and Water Resources for the Nez Perce Reservation
Resources containing information about the hydrology and water resources of the Nez Perce Reservation.
- Baseline geochemical data for stream sediment and surface water samples from Panther Creek, the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, and the Main Salmon River from North Fork to Corn Creek, collected prior to the severe wildfires of 2000 in central Idaho. This resource is a baseline geochemical data analysis report for stream sediment and surface water samples in Central Idaho. (more info)
- Ground Water Atlas of the United States: Idaho, Oregon, Washington. The resource provides an indepth summary of the hydro-geologic setting for the Columbia River Plateau Aquifer. (more info)
- Idaho Department of Water Resources Website. This site provides links to investigate the water resources of Idaho including information on water management, forms/rules/statutes, on-line data, water information, geographic information, water planning, and the Idaho Energy Department. (more info)
- Report for 2001ID4541B: Integrated Drinking Water Protection on the Clearwater Plateau of Idaho, including the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation. This resource provides a description of a drinking water management plan for the Nez Perce Reservation and surrounding areas. (more info)
- Summary of Statewide Ambient Ground Water Quality Monitoring Program Data Clearwater Plateau Hydrogeologic Subarea, 1990-2002. This resource provides an analysis of the water quality within the Clearwater Plateau Subbasin. ( This site may be offline. )
- The Nez Perce Water Rights Settlement . This resource contains links to pertinent documents on the Nez Perce Water Rights Settlement. (more info)