There is serious concern regarding the water supply in the local Moscow area. The water table in the deep aquifer has continued to drop despite efforts by area pumpers to mitigate the decline. However, the rate of decline has lessened in the last few years. The four major pumpers in this area are the City of Pullman, WA, Washington State University, the City of Moscow, ID, and the University of Idaho. The State of Idaho Water Resources Board, by state law, mandates that this potentially serious problem of a continually declining water table be addressed. The Palouse Basin Aquifer Committee (PBAC), with representatives from all pumpers and Whitman, WA and Latah, ID Counties, has a goal of stabilizing the deep aquifer by 2020.
The four major pumping entities mentioned above pump about 2.4 billion gallons of deep aquifer water each year. PBAC asked the entities to hold pumping increases to one percent or less per year to test the hypothesis that water levels would stabilize if pumping withdrawals were stabilized. For the past 14 years, the entities have been able to hold total pumping approximately constant, in part due to the fact that the University of Idaho has been able to significantly reduce its deep aquifer pumping. Over the past 4 years, the deep-water aquifer levels appear to be stabilizing due to this stabilizing of overall pumping.
The University of Idaho operates its own domestic water system on the Moscow campus, with two deep aquifer wells that serve the central campus, and three other shallow aquifer wells that mainly serve outlying facilities. Over the last 20 years, the total UI water consumption averaged roughly 314 million gallons per year, or 860,000 gallons per day. Due to water conservation efforts and the expansion of the reclaimed irrigation system, recent data shows that usage is down to 250 million gallons, or 685,000 gallons per day.