U.S. Water News Online
BOISE, Idaho -- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has proposed
building more dams and expanding existing ones to keep more water
from the Snake River in Idaho and recharge the dwindling Eastern
Snake Plain Aquifer.
"Rather than looking at how to divide up scarcity, we ought to be
looking at how we can get more to stay here," Otter said at the Idaho
Water Users Association convention. "The more water that we can keep
from getting past that head gate, the more water we can have."
Otter said he had met with Bureau of Reclamation officials about
two or three new potential dam sites, which he did not identify. He
also did not say which dams might be raised to impound more water.
Bill Sedivy, executive director of Idaho Rivers United, said the
state doesn't have the hundreds of millions of dollars that would be
needed to raise existing dams or build new ones and federal officials
have said they can't help with funding.
"A much more cost-effective action would be to figure out how to
use water more wisely and more intelligently, rather than throwing
big money at dam projects that don't make sense," Sedivy said. "A way
more prudent approach is teaching Idahoans how to use what existing
water resources we have more prudently."
He said the state ranks third in the nation in per-capita water
use, mostly because of rising consumption in the rapidly growing
Idaho farmers have learned to be efficient and residential users
need to do the same, Sedivy said.
Tension over rights to water from the aquifer has risen with a
case pending before the state Supreme Court, which has been asked to
resolve a dispute between canal companies that hold senior rights and
groundwater pumpers with junior rights.
A decision could come between now and April, and any ruling could
be followed by state legislation that would revise laws on water
rights to ease the economic impact.
Repeating a campaign pledge, Otter said he planned to call a water
summit to tackle disputes over water rights.
"I will be the champion of the solutions you do come up with as
long as they fit the state Constitution," the governor said.
Former association president Harold Mohlman of Rupert praised
"If you have a governor who's basically saying he's for water,
you're going to get something done," Mohlman said. "There's groups of
us here, we're fighting right now, the junior and the senior water
users, and it's important to have a governor who supports us all."
Last year then-House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, R-Burley, failed to
get the Legislature to approve an aquifer recharge plan, but Steve
Howser, general manager of the Aberdeen Springfield Canal Co. said
Otter might succeed.
"Every time we come up with a plan, the difficulty is funding,"
Howser said. "The leadership to acquire that funding has to come from
the governor's office."
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.