"Call order" may shut down all groundwater pumping in Snake River upstream of Twin Falls

Idaho groundwater pumpers could lose water. By Matt Christensen. Times-News writer.

This is of huge importance in Idaho, politically, economically, environmentally. It began with “a call” for water from two of Idaho’s many trout farms.

Most Western states follow the “prior appropriation doctrine” for water rights — the first persons to put the water “to beneficial” use, has the first rights when a shortage comes. Idaho is no exception, and it is one of the biggest irrigation states.

Until recently, when the water court ruled out the plain facts, it was a common belief that river flows and pumped groundwater were not related! When the Snake River (water rights) Adjudication Court ruled in favor of geological truth, millions of acres of land that had been put into irrigated production via pumped ground water upstream of Twin Falls, fell into the junior water rights category.

Now the pumpers day of reckoning may have finally come.

They have tried to put it off by various schemes such as a plan to divert the Snake River so it flows and sinks into the desert in the winter (to recharge aquifers), and even plotting to tax Idaho’s urban residents to pay for it.

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  1. Monty Avatar

    Most wars are conflicts over finite resources. Present & previous American generations have & are using more than their fair share of natural resources. Our soils are thinner, our air is less pure, our rivers are more polluted & so on. When one flies from the west to east coast of this country, it is apparent that the vast majority of productive landscapes are paved over, urbanized or in agriculture production. And now the vast western deserts are being urbanized, propped up by unsustainble water use.

    Our present industrial culture rests upon two things: the perception of inexhaustability & a incureable case of the “Mores”. If, in the future, the last virgin soils are plowed, the last wilderness converted to tree farms & the last aquifer over-drafted, what do be do on the following day, when we still want more Mores?


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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