The Idaho Department of Water Resources has put on hold plans to issue curtailment orders to 1,000 irrigators holding ground water rights in southern and southeastern Idaho.
Director Karl J. Dreher made the decision Aug. 30 after junior and senior water right holders informed him they had reached an understanding on principles for settlement and were finalizing agreements that would avoid the need for curtailments.
Representatives of water rights holders on both sides of the curtailment issue have given IDWR written assurances that the conditions included in the agreements will adequately replace the curtailment actions designed to protect senior water rights.
However, if the parties are unable to self-manage the agreements, the IDWR will resume the process of issuing curtailment orders by the April 1 deadline for the 2002 water year.
The curtailment action plan was made when water flowing from springs into the Snake River was reduced by well pumping by irrigators along the river. Senior rights holders are entitled to the river inflows prior to ground water users with junior rights.
For example, industrial users like the Lamb-Weston processing plant in American Falls, ID, fortunately has canal water rights it can trade for groundwater pumping. The plant should not be affected.