The millions of dollars the state and water users have paid to replenish the eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer is just a small part of the cost of climate change to Idaho.
The American Security Project said in a report that elevated Spring temperatures have caused snowpacks to melt early and the continued climate changes will have a long term impact on the agricultural economy of the state.
“Potato yields—a source of Idahoan pride—could drop by 18%, an annual loss of over $141 million to the gross state product,” said Dr. Jim Ludes, Executive Director of the American Security Project. Moreover, potatoes are an irrigated crop. As competition for water and the number of summer droughts increase, production costs will rise.”
The Eastern Snake River Plane Aquifer has already decreased in size over the past decade, the report said. Although the state has legislated funds to help pay for the $100 million replenishment, 70% of the costs will be paid by water users.
Ludes said Idaho can actually make money and create jobs by combating climate change and protecting the industries it holds dear.
“Today, if Idaho dedicated just one square mile to solar power, enough energy would be created to power 1,300 households for an entire year,” he said.