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Lawmakers eye emergency water rights for cleaning up spills

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Posted at 2:07 AM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 04:07:18-05

BOISE, Idaho — Emergency crews pulling contaminated water from rivers after such things as tanker trunk crashes is standard cleanup practice in Idaho.

But removing that water could be violating the state's strict water-rights laws where water distribution is closely monitored. So lawmakers on Monday voted to hold a hearing on legislation granting an emergency water right when crews are trying to clean up spills in waterways.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director John Tippets says the agency will always work quickly to remove contaminated water. But he says the legislation is needed to prevent someone from coming in and saying their water right is being violated due to the emergency cleanup.