Idaho Adopts New State Water Plan

Mar 8, 2013

Idaho has a new water plan -- the first update since 1996 to the state’s principles for how water in streams, lakes and aquifers should be divided among users and how it should be conserved for fish and wildlife. The new plan goes into effect Friday. But not everyone is happy about it. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Credit Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The Idaho Water Plan doesn’t have the force of law, but it does offer some guidance over state policy when it comes to water.

Under state law, the proposed plan automatically took effect because it’s been 60 days since it was first introduced to the Legislature and no changes were made.

Idaho Water Board Chairman Roger Chase says the new plan doesn’t reduce existing rights to withdraw water for agriculture or other uses. But he says it is updated to address concerns about salmon recovery, wetlands, and what the report calls “climate variability.”

And it calls for voluntary actions, rather than imposing more regulations.

Chase: “So by doing that in a totally voluntary program, we have one of the most successful salmon recovery programs in the nation.”

The Idaho Conservation League says it has reservations about the plan but does not oppose it.

A handful of lawmakers say they want to revise the water plan later this year.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio