Local concerns over water rights

Posted at 10:28 PM, Nov 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-25 00:28:54-05

It’s easy to forget that not even 100 years ago, water was a commodity.

Following irrigation, industrialization, floods and droughts, Idaho has always had to balance water rights with urban dwellers and farmers.

However, a new concern is rising stemming from how the state wants to manage water rights within the Treasure Valley is causing concern from Treasure Valley water users.

State legislators like Senator Jim Rice are baffled by the proposal he says would allow the state to count early spring run-off against Treasure Valley farmers and irrigation districts secured water allotment.

“It’s what is used to water your lawns and gardens.  It’s not just our farms.  It’s everybody,” Sen. Rice explained.

“I think the Department of Water Resources in Idaho are trying to look for new water and they’re trying to grab new water for future uses,” Director of the Treasure Valley Water Users  Association Roger Batt explained. “What they’re doing is taking water away from existing water rights holders.”

However, a spokesman with the Department of Water Resources said it’s simply not true.

“This notion that’s out there that there has been a recent administration change, it’s not a true statement,”

Director of Water Resources Matt Weaver said. “There has been no change in how we administer over the last 30 years.”

Darren Coon, who has been with the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District for a very long time, is not buying the explanation.

When asked about whether his customer will be without water during summer he emphatically said yes.

“There simply isn’t enough river flow rights to irrigate the entire district,” Coons said.

When asked whether that was true Weaver dismissed the claim.

“I have too heard claims that water will be turned off in June and other dire consequences. The fact of the matter is this practice has been in place for thirty years and these dire consequences that have been described has never come to pass,” Weaver countered.

The back-and-forth about the claim will likely head to the Idaho Supreme Court and 6 On Your Side will be following the story as it develops.