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Governor Little comments on water curtailment negotiations

Idaho Governor Brad Little
Idaho Governor Brad Little

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – Governor Brad Little said two more groundwater districts became compliant on Thursday with an approved mitigation plan. He says it will give them safe harbor from curtailment.

The comments were made in a news release issued Friday. The release does not say which districts are in compliant.

It said, the groundwater districts and surface water users remain engaged in finding a path forward for complying with the law, Constitution, and approved mitigation plans.

The governor wrote:

“Idahoans have always solved our own problems. I applaud the water users who continue to negotiate and work toward a solution. The progress made this week shows the plan can work this year. However, as Director Weaver said, the approved mitigation plans are showing their age;  the most recent is nearly a decade old, and there are better ways to do things in the future. I have always believed Idahoans should control their own destiny, and I strongly encourage all water users to stay at the table to resolve their differences.

“What people cannot see, especially in a ‘good’ water year, is what’s underground – the ongoing dwindling supply of water in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. Water from the aquifer feeds the Snake River. Like we do as Idahoans, we are coming together and building some momentum around efforts to get ground water users in compliance with an approved mitigation plan. 

“Idaho must maintain our water sovereignty and not turn out like other western states in the Colorado River Basin, such as California, where the federal government stepped in to supersede the state’s control of its water. We absolutely must conserve water for future generations, which is why the Legislature and I championed half a billion dollars in historic investments in recent years to modernize water infrastructure statewide. 

“My administration has been engaged on this issue for years, most recently through the formation of a Groundwater Management Plan Advisory Council. The creation of the council will continue this summer to help find solutions outside government. We remain committed to working with all water users in Idaho to ensure we have a sustainable supply of water for this generation and future generations. 

“If we continue the status quo with water use on the Eastern Snake Plain, we are setting our children and grandchildren up for failure. Water curtailment is never desired, but the director must follow the approved mitigation plans, Idaho law, and the Constitution. Moving forward, the director needs an improved mitigation plan that reflects that. I know Idahoans can accomplish this,” Governor Little said.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources issued a curtailment order on May 30th. The order said, "Six groundwater districts were deficient in complying with their existing, approved mitigation plans to address an injury volume of 74,100 acre-feet to senior water users."

 The six groundwater districts found to be in noncompliance with an approved mitigation plan are: 

• Bingham Ground Water District 

• Bonneville-Jefferson Ground Water District 

• Jefferson-Clark Ground Water District 

• Magic Valley Ground Water District 

• Carey Valley Ground Water District 

• North Snake Ground Water District 

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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