23 years after historic water pact, Idaho Power Co. sues state

Idaho irrigators, boaters, fishers, commerical trout farmers, conservationists, anyone with a water right on the Snake River, and electrical power users have come to view the Swan Falls agreement of 1985 as a turning point in Idaho politics and water law. Now Idaho Power is going to court to claim that the pact didn’t leave enough water to satisfy all the uses (in their case hydropower). Idaho Power is correct. The 1985 agreement was overly optimistic (especially in view of the drying climate).

This is a huge political/economic/conservation development.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Be sure to read the sidebar “Analysis” by Rocky Barker.

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  1. Monty Avatar

    Maybe this is just a forerunner of an emergying crisis, like too many people chasing too few resources. Those who believe in the perpetual growth machine, may have to adjust their thinking to conform to an Un-American concept: Resources Are Finite! It’s too early to predict a doomsday scanario, but if the earth’s climatic is in a warming and drying trend, regardless of the reason, then the possibility of “water wars” looms on the horizon.

  2. be Avatar

    the water wars are on in the courts. soon it will be the air with the carbon crisis. and there is little mention of it now, but the land is not boding well either. the rate that biomass is extracted from the soil given agri-business’s heavy chemical dependency and monocultural mega-farms is not not sustainable.

    water, air, and soil – all of which are more profitable when used and abused rather than conserved.

    these water rights issues are particularly interesting. different industry fighting over water rights. funny conservation practices are rarely brought up. how much flow would be conserved if 50% of the agricultural interests employed water conserving technologies that were available 10 or 20 years ago? we won’t know for awhile – why conserve water when the rights/incentives are based on its use?

    that’s backwards.

  3. Monty Avatar

    Agree, it appears that our culture rushing into a dark tunnel replete w/negative possibilities. The “talking heads” on the national media & politicians supremely ignore the threat of “ecological bankreptcy” Modern economics pushes the idea that individuals act to optimize their own interests and checks on self interest are not only unnecessary but harmful. They believe that self-interest behavior is always rational. Our lands have become a mine with an over flowing sink hole for waste.


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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Ralph Maughan