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First take/water

The signing of the final decree of the Snake River Basin Adjudication in August 2014 must have felt to some people like an end of Idaho water history – and it was the conclusion of a major chapter in that history. But by no means the end of all of it.

In fact, in some ways it opened whole new areas for conflict and dispute, which is not a criticism but a way of saying that what the SRBA really did, which was to clarify who had rights to what water, was to nail down facts but not make policy judgments about what should be done with them. The reality is that there’s less water in the Snake River basin than Idahoans would ideally like to have, and that means there’ll be conflict.

One policy area where Idaho has been notably successful, an arena where other states could usefully draw positive lessons, over the years has been water management. This video (sent our way by former newspaper colleague Steve Steubner, who worked on it) outlines usefully what some of the issues are now and how they’re being addressed. At least for now. This is a territory where the debates will be going on for a very long time. – rs

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