Writings and observations

Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on February 21 held that a local California water authority did not have standing to challenge Department of Interior and Bureau of Reclamation decisions on water flow based on endangered species considerations. San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Kevin Haugrud wound up affirming federal agency obligations to take responsibility for considering endangered species considerations.

Despite objections from many water suppliers that drought conditions have ended, the State Water Resources Control Board this week voted unanimously to extend emergency water conservation regulations throughout California.

The largest coal-fired power plant in the west, the Navajo Generating Station in northeast Arizona, is proposed for an end of operations in 2019. It is a heavy water used in a parched region. The plant uses a significant amount of water, much of it from Lake Powell on the Colorado River system. What would happen to it if the plant stops operations?

photo/At the Oroville Dam in California, a partial view of the emergency spillway (left) and the concrete structure containing the gates for the main service spillway (right)

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 6. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The Bureau of Land Management Challis Field Office and U.S. Forest Service Salmon-Challis National Forest are developing a draft plan for the Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness and are soliciting public comments.

Citing the stress on many rural county budgets, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined 78 of their colleagues in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Office of Management and Budget calling on it to provide funding for the Secure Rural Schools program in the President’s upcoming budget request that will be submitted to Congress.

The Sawtooth National Forest is soliciting public comment in response to a proposal by the City of Ketchum, the City of Sun Valley, the City of Stanley, Blaine County, and the Idaho Conservation League to establish the ‘Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve’ on both public and private lands within an area that includes the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, portions of the Ketchum Ranger District, and the cities of Stanley, Ketchum, and Sun Valley.

The State Oil and Gas Regulatory Exchange, an innovative regulatory improvement program created under the States First Initiative by two state-based organizations, finds Idaho’s oil and gas regulatory structure to be mostly in line with the regulatory practices of other oil and gas producing states, and provides guidance for Idaho as its regulation of oil and gas exploration, drilling and production continues to evolve.

Senator Jim Risch, chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the following statement regarding the Senate confirmation of Linda E. McMahon to serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

(photo/Homestead Ministries, the Boise Rescue Mission and The Ambrose School in Meridian at their Feed the Need event on February 10. This event incorporates crops grown in the Pacific Northwest and packaged by 500 students in one day. (photo/Governor Otter)

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Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

A special master on February 14 sided with Georgia in its dispute with Georgia over water rights in the Apalachicola River, Chattahoochee River and Flint River.

Despite objections from many water suppliers that drought conditions have ended, the State Water Resources Control Board this week voted unanimously to extend emergency water conservation regulations throughout California.

Dropping water levels in Kenya’s Lake Turkana following the development of dams and plantations in Ethiopia’s lower Omo Valley threaten the livelihoods of half a million indigenous people in Ethiopia and Kenya, Human Rights Watch said on February 14.

The Idaho Senate has voted to confirm four members of the Idaho Water Resource Board who were reappointed to new four-year terms by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Idaho Water Resource Board Chairman Roger Chase of Pocatello was confirmed for a third term; Albert Barker, a Boise attorney, was confirmed for a second term; Vince Alberdi of Kimberly, retired, was confirmed for a third term; and John “Bert” Stevenson of Rupert, retired, was confirmed for a second term.

A measure that would have let Wyoming state agencies negotiate for water rights in Lake DeSmet failed on February 15 in the state Senate.

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Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The Supreme Court will hear next from advocates for Texas and New Mexico in their battle over water flows in the Rio Grande. Texas appears to have the upper hand.

A group of Aiken County residents in South Carolina, concerned about high water use by a couple of local corporate farms, have asked the state’s legislature to tighten water use regulation.
South Carolina, a relatively wet riparian-doctrine state, has relatively few restrictions on water use. But as the state’s House Legislative Oversight Committee heard in late January, concerns are rising.

State legislative season has kicked in around the country, but maybe nowhere is the water right front as active as in Montana. Out in the Big Sky, at least 18 water rights related bills were introduced by early February.

TriMetals Mining Inc. said on February 7 that one of its subsidiaries has acquired the rights to 1,658 acre feet of water per year through a water lease agreement which includes an option to purchase the water rights.

Concerns about water levels in sensitive peatlands, the government of Indonesia said on Feburary it will issue a regulation requiring property owners to set up systems to monitor water levels.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for February 6. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The money race gets well underway for the 2018 Idaho governor’s contest, while incumbent Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter goes internationally viral with his defense of the Trump Administration’s priority for Christian refugees over others.

The GOP primary to succeed retiring Gov. Butch Otter got started a while ago, with both Lt. Gov. Brad Little and ex-state Sen. Russ Fulcher announcing their candidacies last year. Little brought in $340,000 from July to December, and he added $50,000 of his own money. That’s far better than Fulcher, who lost the 2014 primary to Otter 51-44; since he announced in late August, Fulcher hauled in just $50,000.

Senator Jim Risch on February 1 introduced the Greater Sage-Grouse Protection and Recovery Act of 2017, legislation allowing states to implement their own specific conservation and management plans to protect greater sage-grouse populations and their habitats, in lieu of federal management. Original cosponsors of the bill include Senators Mike Crapo, Dean Heller (R-NV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

Micron Technology, Inc. on February 2 announced the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Mark Durcan.

The Boise City Council on February 1 endorsed a resolution highlighting the city’s long-standing role as a welcoming community and a community of refuge for those fleeing violence and persecution from conflicts around the globe.

A recently completed audit shows logging operations examined on private, state, and federal lands in Idaho overall were 96% compliant in applying laws designed to protect water quality.

The seventh annual ACHD revenue and expense report details more than $1 billion in spending on transportation within each city and Ada County since 2002.

PHOTO Idaho Fish and Game is feeding big game animals at nearly 110 sites this winter and expects to spend about $650,000 on the effort (photo/Department of Fish & Game)

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Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

A Kansas court has closed permanently two wells operated by the company American Warrior in light of a lawsuit filed by a local senior water right holder, the Garetson family. That extends a temporary injunction that had been in place, ordered by District Court Judge Linda Gilmore, since 2013.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation on January 14 issued a preliminary water right permit for Montana Artesian Water Company, which would prospectively allow it to withdraw large amounts of water from the Deep Artesian Aquifer through a well.

The city of Calistoga, California, on January 26 prevailed in a challenge to its municipal water supply rights.

The town board of the Colorado city of Windsor voted on January 23 to buy a large batch of water rights – priced at $2.1 million – to maintain nearby Lake Windsor and levels of current water use in the city. Windsor is a community of about 20,000 people.

The documentary film “Water & Power: A California Heist” was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in late January.
Director Marina Zenovich visited communities in the San Joaquin Valley where water disparities abounded. As a review in the Salt Lake Tribune said, “where locals can’t get clean tap water. However, in the corporate agribusinesses near those towns, there’s plenty of water to grow almonds, pistachios and pomegranates.”

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Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

Jon Steverson, the top administrator in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in January resigned after legislative complaints about exploding legal bills in the state’s water war with Georgia. He will depart on February 3. Steverson will go to work for the law firm Foley Gardner, which is one of the four private firms the state hired to prosecute its claims in the water case.

Canamex Resources Corp. said on January 24 that the Nevada Division of Water Resources has granted it an extension through 2017 for a subsurface water right for the Bruner Gold Project located in Nye County, Nevada.

The Idaho Department of Water Resources has ordered a reduction on water use by holders of about 70 rights holders in the eastern part of the state. They were not participants in a groundwater mitigation program.

The documentary film “Water & Power: A California Heist” was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in late January.
Director Marina Zenovich visited communities in the San Joaquin Valley where water disparities abounded.

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Water rights weekly report for January 9. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York on January 18 reversed a district judge in effectively reinstating a Bush-era rule which says direct water transfers are not subject to the permitting system set up by the Clean Water Act.

A representative of the New Mexico State Engineer’s office in January described to Lincoln County officials the chances of obtaining a new water right in the area. The upshot was: Somewhere around slim or none.

The Oklahoma city of Ada on January 17 will move forward with purchase of 120 acres of land linked to substantial aquifer rights. And the city of Alamosa, Colorado, has agreed to purchase more than a half-million dollars in water rights, presented held by a ranching corporation.

Nigeria’s government in January released a new national Water Use and License 2016 document.

Exeter Resource Corporation said on January 17 that it has secured a second water source, which will provide a timely development pathway for its 100% owned Caspiche gold oxide/ gold-copper project in Chile.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 23. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

As a new administration takes power in Washington, the Idaho Legislature kicks into gear and introduces legislation at a somewhat faster rate than its members did a year ago.

The Bureau of Land Management has signed a Record of Decision to authorize routes for the final two segments of the Gateway West transmission line project, which connects the Hemingway substation in southwest Idaho with power generation facilities in central Wyoming. The project will address congestion problems within the Western electrical grid, facilitate the renewable energy market, especially wind energy in Idaho and Wyoming, and aid in delivering that energy to the region.

Idaho’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in December – after five straight months at 3.8 percent.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said on January 20 that the State of Idaho’s official website, idaho.gov, has a new design and significantly improved functionality.

Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, provided opening remarks at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Improving Small Business Input on Federal Regulations: Ideas for Congress and a New Administration.

A regional cold snap drove loads, or power demand, in the Bonneville Power Administration’s balancing authority area to high levels – topping out on Friday, January 6 at 10,943 megawatts. The balancing authority area is the electrically-defined “geographic” unit within which BPA’s Transmission Services Operations team balances the supply and demand of electricity on an ongoing real-time basis.

PHOTO The Idaho National Laboratory has had five supercomputers recognized on the TOP500 list, which originated in the early ’90s. The new Falcon supercomputer initially made the list in November 2014, and has maintained a position on subsequent lists. The supercomputer advanced in the current rankings as recent processor upgrades improved the operating capabilities of Falcon. Operating with more than 25,000 cores and 122 terabytes of memory, Falcon supports the needs of over 400 users – spanning the lab, national universities, other DOE labs and industry partners. (photo/Idaho National Laboratory)

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kingenergytracking
 

King County Executive Dow Constantine (foreground, left) tours a new energy use tracking system being installed by the county. (See the local government section.) (image/King County)

 
After the gubernatorial excitement of the last few weeks, things seemed to settle down a bit in Oregon last week. Just as the legislative activity started to pick up.

So it seemed in the other two states as well.

Idaho officials managed a short-term stopgap last week in the public school broadband collapse; money was appropriated, and for the most part at least the system will not go dark – for now. How long the stopgap may sufficie, though, remains unclear.

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