The Idaho Ground Water Appropriators and two water districts filed suit today in Jerome against the state and the Idaho Department of Water Resources in an attempt to block the department from shutting off water to an array of junior water rights holders in the Magic Valley, including farmers, dairies and 13 Idaho cities. It’s part of a huge fight over water rights in the eastern Snake Plain that Gov. Butch Otter tried to address by bringing all parties together for a “water summit” last month. Senior surface and spring water users to the east have been asserting their rights to the water, but the ground water users say they’re asking for more than is available. “Our members were backed into a corner by the threatened curtailment orders and had no choice but to turn to the courts to protect their lawful water rights,” Tim Deeg, IGWA president, said in a news release today.
The water users, in their press release, said they acted in response to a letter from state Water Resources Director David Tuthill threatening to issue an order to curtail junior water rights on May 14. Deeg said in the statement that his side had made “significant overtures” in Otter’s water meetings to try to avoid legal action, but they were “flatly rejected.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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