Writings and observations

Water rights weekly report for March 20. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

In the final days of the 2017 Idaho legislative session, lawmakers approved a change in state law to allow people or entities to apply for the temporary use of surplus water to prevent flood damage, recharge ground water, or work on ground or surface water-quality remediation. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the amendments to Idaho Code § 42-202A into law on March 30. An emergency provision makes the new law effective immediately.

Colorado legislators are struggling over legislation intended to require that the Bureau of Reclamation allow farmers to use their allotment of water stored by Bureau projects, even if that use is to grow plants in the cannabis family. The farmer whose case was on point, a grower in the Rocky Ford area near Montrose, was seeking only to grow hemp, which has no significant psychotropic qualities and is used for a wide range of other purposes. The Bureau of Reclamation denied him the water.

A high-end development of new residences near Bellingham, Washington, is slated to use existing wells for a water supply, with the water coming from the Governors Point Water Association. The development involves a half-dozen tracts on Governors Point, on a lake front south of Bellingham.

The commissioners of Washington’s Spokane County said last week they plan to set up a water bank for the county, and agreed to spend $1.2 million to get it started.

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Digests

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for April 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on April 11 vetoed legislature which sought to exempt grocery purchases from the state sales tax. He also allowed to become law, without his signature, a measure substantially expanding spending on state highways. The grocery sales tax measure had cleared the Senate on a vote of 25-10 and the House by 51-19.

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Daniel T. Eismann (pictured) said last week that he plans to retire from the court on August 31.

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates said on April 10 that he intends to step down as State Party Chairman effective April 24.

Reservoirs are filling across southern Idaho, and fisheries managers are looking forward to the benefits that big water brings.

Idaho Power Company is asking state regulators to approve an average 1.3 percent increase in an annual rate adjustment mechanism that allows the utility to recover its fixed costs of delivering energy when energy sales decline due to reduced consumption.

Canyon County voters in six precincts will have new polling places beginning with the May 16 election.

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Briefings