Lawmakers fight for stored water rights
BOISE —A group of bi-partisan Idaho legislators want the Idaho Department of Water Resources to stop counting flood control releases from Boise River reservoirs against their stored water rights.
“Whatever the game being played here is,” said Sen. Grant Burgoyne of Boise, “it has to stop now. The Court has issued the decision and the director and the department he oversees has to accept and abide by it, rather than go against it so that Treasure Valley water is secure.”
Irrigators have fought the state over the issue in two different court cases and the issue has the support of both Statehouse republicans and democrats. They say they’re ready to intervene should Idaho Governor Butch Otter fail to take action.
“The water users in this Valley will take all legal and legislative steps necessary to prevent this unconstitutional taking of their property and secure their water for them and their children,” said Burgoyne.
Idaho Farmers like Lou Murgoitio says the economic impact to the Treasure Valley and the Idaho Economy would be disastrous.
“The amount of money that agriculture puts into State coffers is huge, let alone all the golf courses, all your lawns, all the housing developments that would run out of water and its monumental losing that water,” said Murgoitio.
“This refill proposal is an unconscionable and unfair attempt to reduce the water right, which will increase water costs for thousands of homeowners throughout the Treasure Valley,” said Rep. John Gannon of Ada County.
Special Water Master Theodore Booth of the Snake River Basin Adjudication Court ruled October 9th that the water that fills reservoirs following flood control releases is part of existing storage water rights and flood control releases do not count against our farmers storage water rights.
Six days later, IDWR Director Gary Spackman issued an order in a separate, department-initiated contested case hearing that backs the department’s position on the issue and was in direct contradiction to Booths ruling.