EPA trying to take control of western U.S. water rights
On June 16th, I attended a meeting called by the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) to discuss the organization of a ground water/surface water district (or districts) in the Mountain Home area. The attendees were concerned about the costs of monitoring equipment for ground water uses, and whether or not the existing surface water district should be combined with a newly-organized ground water district.
There was a fair amount of concern expressed by the water users over the increased monitoring and regulation of water use by the IDWR.
I would like to remind all of the water users in this area that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of attempting to take over jurisdiction of all water in the western U.S., by claiming even irrigation water to be "waters of the U.S." If you think the regulation of water use by the IDWR is a problem, imagine what will happen to your water rights and uses if the EPA is successful in seizing control.
The State of Idaho is currently in a very strong position to resist this federal water grab, precisely because the IDWR has been working for the last 25+ years to get an enforceable, judicially approved agreement on managing the surface water and aquifers in southern Idaho. With the IDWR setting up a multi-party water monitoring and use management plan for surface and ground water, the EPA will not be able to claim they are taking over to "protect the environment and the aquifers."
Contrast this to the situation in California where that state has allowed unchecked and unregulated depletion of the ground water aquifers, with massive ground subsidence in southern California. It is going to be very difficult for the People's Republic of California to hold off an EPA takeover of their water rights management for the "good of the resource."
I would strongly recommend that local water right holders and users continue working with the IDWR to demonstrate that Idaho can take care of Idaho's water resources, without any "help" from the Federal government.
-- Peter Humm, Mountain Home