Idaho Governor Brad Little Signs Legislation To End Treasure Valley Water Dispute

Feb 13, 2019

Governor Brad Little signed a law dealing with seasonal releases from reservoirs. The legislation ends a years-long battle over water rights.
Credit Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Governor Brad Little signed legislation Wednesday that provides a major step forward in ending a years-long dispute over water.

The law signed by the governor has a lot of moving parts. It deals with scheduled releases from the Boise reservoir system as well as the water that refills it.

In a nutshell, the water that gets released from the reservoirs in the spring due to snow melt counts against someone’s yearly allotment of water from the system. People who use the system said the releases put them at a disadvantage. Should a hot summer visit Idaho, the users feared they’d be left high and dry.

That anxiety led to a range of lawsuits between canals, irrigation districts and the state. The host of entities reached an agreement last year, but it took the stroke of the governor’s pen to finalize everything.

Under the new law, all of the water going in and out of the reservoir system will be tracked by the Water Resources Department. Releases in the spring will still count against water rights. However, users of the system will have a claim to the water that refills the reservoirs following releases.

The Statesman reports the Snake River Basin Adjudication Court still has to evaluate the new arrangement.

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