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Economic and dam related articles

State Invites Water Sale Offers

by Staff
Capital Press, December 10, 2004

The Idaho Water Resources Board made an “invitation for offers to sell water rights” available in Southern Idaho Dec. 7, a first step in determining whether the state can acquire 60,000 acre feet of surface water.

That volume of water is called for in the proposed Nez Perce Settlement now before the state as part of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. It would be used by the Bureau of Reclamation to meet Endangered Species Act requirements.

The Nez Perce Settlement calls for the water to come from below the Thousand Springs reach of the Snake River.

The invitation and associated forms are available on the Internet at Interested persons have about 30 days to respond, after which state officials will decide whether to proceed with the proposal.

Officials stressed the invitation is not an offer to purchase. Rather, the state needs to determine how much interest there is in selling water rights to the state, and what the costs might be, said Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

and members of the Interim Legislative Committee on Natural Resources.

The Nez Perce Settlement is part of efforts to help stabilize the East Snake Plain Aquifer and avoid a potential court battle between groundwater and surface water users, particularly spring water rights holders, most of which are senior to pumper water rights.

Kempthorne and interim committee members stressed the potential acquisition of water rights is only one of a number of actions needed to be considered in order to reach a settlement.

Another element of the plan proposes placing 100,000 acres of irrigated farmland into the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program for 15 years under the USDA-Farm Service Agency. The governor has also endorsed that action.

Holders of junior priority ground water rights subject to curtailment under Idaho?s prior appropriation laws are not eligible to sell their rights, officials said.

State Invites Water Sale Offers
Capital Press, December 10, 2004

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