More Threats On Idaho's Water

Published online: Oct 12, 2004 WSPC/IPC
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Just when everyone thought the war cry over Columbia and Snake River water and power had subsided, comes potentially devastating news from enviromentalists and the power companies.

Idaho Power, because some growers are running behind on payments, wants the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to make late payers pre-pay for their power before it is turned on for next irrigation season.

As if growers had the money up front to make these kinds of payments, such an action would only worsen things for growers who have been struggling with low commodity prices. Generally speaking, growers have to get up-front loans and pay after harvest. The power company would spread the payments out in monthly bills.

Environmentalists, specifically American Rivers, has filed suit to block delays on the NOAA Fisheries' biological opinion studies for the Upper Snake River.

Judge Redden of the Ninth District Court, denied the federal agencies' request that a lawsuit challenging the NOAA Fisheries' BiOp on the operation of the BOR storage projects upstream from Hells Canyon Dam--known as the Upper Snake River projects--be delayed.

The environmental and fishing groups who filed the lawsuit, claim that NOAA Fisheries' BiOp conclusion--that the operation of the projects does not jeopardize the survival of Snake River sockeye, spring/summer chinook, fall chinook and steelhead--is illegal.

The lawsuit asks the court to require new analysis of the Upper Snake projects, and for NOAA Fisheries to include that analysis in the new Federal Columbia River Power System BiOp, which is expected to be completed before April.

The federal agencies argued that the release of the new BiOp would make the plaintiff's claims moot; and that the case had the potential to disrupt both the remand and the consummation of the long-running Snake River Adjudication--a sorting out of  Upper Snake Water rights claims.

Redden disagreed with the federal agencies' claim and denied their request.