Boise's perspective on Elmore County's water transfer application

Posted at 6:15 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 20:15:30-05

"The city's position has been that under proper circumstances under proper controls we wouldn't be opposed to some sort of transfer but it is imperative that the correct modeling, the correct analysis is done," said Colin Hickman. "The application is just not there and that concerns us."

The Idaho Water Resources Board will continue their hearings on Elmore County's water application on Friday and another on December 12.

Mountain Home is worried about their future because of a shortage of water so they want to transfer a small amount of floodwater out of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

However, the water in the reservoir flushes into the South Fork of the Boise River and eventually makes its way into Boise and the Treasure Valley.

"The Boise River is the crown jewel of Boise," said Hickman. "It is an incredibly important resource from a tourism and economic development perspective."

The Boise River provides the Treasure Valley with drinking water, irrigation water but it might be the recreation that gives Ada County the ammunition to fight Elmore County's water transfer.

A provision in the state code doesn't allow an interbasin transfer if doing so has a negative impact on the basin of origin and it remains to be seen if flood water would hurt the Boise River fishing.

"Both the city of Boise and Elmore County will have economic experts who are going to talk about negative economic impacts," said Marie Callaway Kellner of the Idaho Conservation League. "Because this is an interbasin transfer there is this special thing that the Idaho Department of Water Resources has to consider that they normally don't in a water right decision."

Idaho uses more water than every other state besides California and Texas and that happens because 85 percent of water used in Idaho is for irrigation.

With all the growth in the Treasure Valley Kellner said that this might be the "canary in the coal mine" that she hopes catches the attention of the legislature to talk about the future of water in Idaho.