Water legislation bill backed by House speaker advances

Bill aims to end years of water rights disputes
Posted at 11:34 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 07:03:59-05

BOISE, Idaho — Lawmakers have advanced legislation needed to end years of litigation and finalize an agreement involving water rights in heavily populated southwestern Idaho.

The House Resources and Conservation Committee unanimously advanced the bill Thursday after Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley spoke in its favor.

The lawsuits involved canal companies, irrigation districts and the state of Idaho, and concerned the storage of water in three Boise River system reservoirs during flood control operations.

The agreement between the entities made last summer involves water rights to water that refills the reservoirs following the flood control releases.

The legislation that advanced Thursday makes sure those water rights to that refill are protected should additional water storage systems of 1,000 acre-feet or more be built on the Boise River system.

Bedke says the legislation is needed to remove doubt about future water rights in the new agreement.