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Idaho Legislature Briefed On Treasure Valley Water Rights Issue

Chadd Cripe
Idaho Statesman
Lucky Peak reservoir is one of three dams in the Boise basin system that controls the flow of water through the Treasure Valley.

A group of state lawmakers is asking Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to call a special legislative session to support a potential deal on water rights in southwest Idaho.

They say the session is necessary to discuss a potential solution to a sticky issue in the Treasure Valley: How to manage for floods in the Boise basin, while making sure there’s enough water every year for folks with legal claim to the stored water?

The interim meeting of the Natural Resources Interim Committee featured an explanation of the draft bill by House Speaker Scott Bedke. He played a big role in a similar water dispute in the Magic Valley, and says the goal is to find a compromise rather than draw out an expensive legal fight. The two sides have been held up in a state Supreme Court case, and have a hearing set for June 20. Bedke says an agreement is on the horizon – but needs legislative support soon.

“This has support from every affected party,” the Speaker says.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle agrees with Bedke, and says that although a special session will cost taxpayers money, it will be less expensive in the longrun.

“We probably need to have a special session to save the state money," says Moyle. "In my opinion, the purpose of this meeting today is to address one of the concerns that was brought up. That is: Getting this out in the public domain, getting it out where people can see it and get a grasp on it.”

It’s not yet clear if the special session will be called before or after the June 20 hearing.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.