Suit Could Take Idaho Water

Published online: Sep 03, 2003
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>A coalition of Idaho water users will meet in Boise tomorrow (Thursday) at 1:30 p.m. to investigate a claim that two environmental groups will sue the Bureau of Reclamation to take Idaho's Snake River system water for fish-flow augmentation.

The meeting, to be held in the Farm Bureau Building in Boise (just behind the state capitol building at 500 W. Washington), will address threats by Idaho Rivers United and the Idaho Conservation League. They have notified the U.S. Dept. of Interior, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the NOAA Fisheries that unless their demands are met, they will sue these agencies within 60 days claiming they are violating the Endangered Species Act.

Among the demands is one that will shut down the BOR's water diversions from Idaho reservoirs to irrigators in 2004-and then send the water downstream for flow augmentation.

"If this eco-extortion strategy is successful, Idaho will have a Klamath- (Basin in Oregon which had similar problems) style shut off in Idaho that could dry up over a million acres with an economic impact running into the billions of dollars.

"If this eco-extortion strategy is successful, Idaho will have Klamath times 10 on our hands," said Norm Semanko of the Idaho Water Users Association and president of the coalition.

The coalition includes Potato Growers of Idaho, Idaho Cattle Association, Idaho Aquaculture Association, the Idaho Farm Bureau, the Idaho Food Processors Association, the Idaho Dairymen's Association, the J.R. Simplot Company, and the Committee of Nine that includes nine major irrigation canal companies in the state.