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Irrigators running out of time to install meters

Under terms of a 2016 order, ground water irrigators have until April 1 to install approved flow meters. Pumpers who fail to comply will have their water supply shut off until they install the flow meters.

Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Director Gary Spackman issued the order requiring installation of department-approved flow meters for all qualifying ground water users in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer region by the start of the irrigation season. An historic water settlement agreement between the Surface Water Coalition and Idaho groundwater users specifically requires ground water pumpers to install flow meters.

So far, IDWR says about 60 percent of the farmers who irrigate with ground water have complied so far. About 5,400 ground water wells in the region are subject to the requirement. Domestic and stockwater wells and small irrigations wells servicing less than 5 acres are exempt.

Idaho Ground Water Apprpriators Executive Director Lynn Tominaga said a number of ground water districts have grant money available to help farmers with the cost of installing the meters. “We’ve been working hard to obtain grant funds to help farmers with the expense of installing flow meters in a timely
manner, and we’ve got about $2.8 million available,” Tominaga said. “Farmers should contact their ground water districts to learn how to apply, and do it quickly.”

Ground water users can file a variance request if they qualify. More information about eligibility requirements is available here.

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