Tribal Water Lease Provides Critical Water for Idaho Groundwater Users
WestWater is pleased to announce that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have entered into a landmark water lease agreement with the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators (IGWA) to lease 45,000 acre-feet of water that helps to settle a longstanding feud between surface water and groundwater right owners in the Upper Snake River Basin of Idaho. Following a decade of litigation and conflict, the Surface Water Coalition representing senior-priority surface water rights signed a 2015 settlement agreement with IGWA, who represents 8 large groundwater districts in southern Idaho. The settlement agreement requires mandatory reductions in groundwater use as well as an obligation to provide additional streamflows in the Snake River for mitigating the effects of groundwater use. The Tribes will be providing the bulk of this streamflow mitigation obligation through dedicated water releases from its storage rights in American Falls and Palisades reservoirs. Since 1998, the Tribes have developed and operated an active water marketing program which has provided water for instream flows, hydropower, and now mitigation as benefits to Idaho and its water users. Elese Teton, who is Director of the Tribal Water Resources Department, said that “the Tribes are pleased to finalize this lease agreement with IGWA and to utilize the Tribal Water Bank to help implement solutions to one of the most important water conflicts facing the Upper Snake River Basin.” WestWater Research provides ongoing consulting and advisory services to the Tribes in managing the water marketing program.
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