October 5, 1997 in Idaho

Advocates Praise Limit On Irrigation


Environmentalists hail an Idaho Supreme Court decision they claim will prevent irrigators in the Snake River Basin Adjudication from exceeding their water rights with impunity.

The Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United and Idaho Wildlife Federation intervened in the adjudication two years ago to challenge provisions under which farmers could use “excess” water beyond their rights, whenever high stream flows occur.

They could take “high water” out of streams without any permit by the state or public input.

The groups argued state water law limits farmers to use only their existing water rights and does not authorize that excess water without following existing permit requirements.

“High flows are critical to maintaining the health of rivers and streams,” said Marti Bridges of Idaho Rivers United. “These flows wet the streambanks for vegetation to grow, replenish the aquifers and scour river channels for fish.”

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