Idaho water meeting

Idaho water meeting

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
There were many water/irrigation managers and representatives in town recently as part of the Idaho Water Users Association’s (IWUA) 87th Annual Convention. Farm Bureau was a proud sponsor of the IWUA event and was happy to see so many Farm Bureau members there in attendance.

A large variety of topics were discussed and considered at this year’s convention. Whether it was top water priorities for this year's legislative session, the latest state snowpack report, updates on regional and national issues including the proposed settlement agreement regarding the Lower Snake River Dams, or out of state perspectives on groundwater management; IWUA convention goers were able to learn about it all.

Attendees also had the chance to hear from newly appointed Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) Director, Matt Weaver. Director Weaver’s appointment was just approved by the Senate Resources Committee and will be considered by the full Senate in the coming weeks. The Director outlined his vision for the Department, discussed adjustments in administrative positions, and addressed his perspective on several hot button issues from around the state. IFBF’s State Water Committee has scheduled to hear from Director Weaver at the IFBF Legislative and Commodity Conference on Feb. 6th in the afternoon. Farm Bureau members who would like to hear from the Director are welcome to attend the Water Committee meeting.

Of particular interest to Farm Bureau, was the conversations regarding legislative priorities. Farm Bureau is part of IWUA’s workgroups on the topics of Idaho’s Domestic Exemption law, and the Area of Common Groundwater Supply, both of which are working on draft legislation that may be considered during this legislative session. IFBF Policy listed below is guiding staff as conversations continue with these two topics.

IFBF Policy #29 regarding domestic wells supports Idaho Water law first-in-time, first-in-right, being applied to all wells drilled in Idaho, including domestic wells. We support evaluating domestic wells under Idaho water law for new wells in the future which would require developers to supply irrigation water and/or irrigation water delivery systems using existing water rights and/or gray water to new developments. We support IDWR enforcing the domestic well exemption restrictions on one half acre homesteads, not to exceed 13,000 gallons of water used per day.

IFBF Policy #30 regarding groundwater districts supports changing the boundaries of local groundwater districts that are directly connected to the underground aquifer to include those who are not currently participating but are of a common groundwater source.

IFBF supports updates to Idaho’s domestic exemption and areas of common groundwater supply policies that are consistent with the IFBF policies stated above. Farm Bureau will continue to work with our IWUA partners and the Idaho Legislature to update and improve the state’s water policies.

For those that are interested in the latest NRCS snowpack reports, visit this website: NRCS Idaho Snow Survey and Water Supply | Natural Resources Conservation Service (

For BOR storage reservoirs levels “teacup” diagrams, visit this website and select the region you are interested in: Hydromet Pacific Northwest Region | Bureau of Reclamation (

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