Budget cuts at the Idaho Department of Water Resources won’t stop the North Idaho water rights adjudication, but they’ll slow it down, state Water Resources Director David Tuthill told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning. Among the department’s budget cuts are five of the 11 employees working on the adjudication. “So far we’ve received over 100 claims,” Tuthill told lawmakers. About a third of those were filed online, a new capability the department now has, he said. “This process is working very nicely.” He said, “We’re at a point now where we can reduce the effort and still be OK. We can slow down in our claims-taking… It is launched.” The newly “elongated” time frame for the adjudication now shows it being completely by 2018, with the first basin completed by 2015. That”s about two years longer than had been planned.
In response to questions from North Idaho lawmakers, Tuthill said there may be some added cost with the longer time frame, but the process appears to be moving along adequately. “We’re really leading the way with Washington,” he said. “I think this level of effort will maintain that.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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