Letter of Support for Supplemental Budget for Water Infrastructure

Eastern Idaho Legislators:

On behalf of the members of the Eastern Idaho Water Rights Coalition, which consists of cities, irrigation districts, groundwater districts, canal companies, developers, and businesses throughout Eastern Idaho, we write to support the supplemental budget for the Idaho Water Resources Board, as recommended by Governor Little.  The Governor has recommended $150 million to address water supply, infrastructure, and related needs throughout Idaho.

As you are aware the Surface Water Coalition (SWC) in the Magic Valley, and Idaho Groundwater Appropriators (IGWA) have been engaged in litigation and serious negotiations for some 20 years.  We believe it is time to find real solutions to the dispute and not just continue to kick the can down the road.  Idaho has sufficient water, but the current water policy is causing reduction in agricultural water use, with dire economic consequences. In fact, a recent economic impact study shows that curtailing ground water irrigators in the upper Snake River Basin would result in a loss of $233-291 million in household income alone.

What is needed is modernized policy that promotes better management, conservation, and capture of the water we do have.  This effort will require significant funds to modernize our surface water system, much of which continues to operate with infrastructure and technology from the 19th century.

Support of the Governor’s recommendations will help this effort move forward.  We also plan to present ideas that will help establish drought resiliency on the Eastern Snake River Plain, modernize our outdated infrastructure, and maintain the agricultural base that is so vital for not only our farmers, but the ag industries, cities and state that rely on the ag economy.  We appreciate your continued support in this effort and look forward to presenting more ideas in the future.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

Keith Esplin, Executive Director

Roger Warner, President

Eastern Idaho Water Rights Coalition