Letters From the West

Idaho State Water Plan gets strong support from Resources Committee

The House Resources and Conservation Committee approved the original 2012 Idaho Water Plan.

The panel voted 13-5 for the plan that goes into effect Friday no matter what they did. The Idaho Constitution requires lawmakers reject or edit it within 60 days of the session’s start or it is approved.

But the committee had a full discussion of the plan with testimony from Idaho Water Resources Board Chairman Roger Chase and others that both supported and opposed it. Most of all, the committee members who had submitted an edited version got a chance to explain their concerns.

The plan, last updated in 1996, sets water policy for the state. All other state agencies are required to follow the plan in their own management.

Led by Rigby Republican Rep. JoAn Wood, lawmakers expressed their interest in ensuring the plan put Idaho’s interests first and protected private property rights.

“We earnestly wanted to make it a better plan,” Wood said. “We were all 85 percent on board with he work that was done.”

Chase call the document a living document and agreed to meet with lawmakers during the summer to consider changes to meet their concerns. Those changes would go through the public process.

Wood also asked Chase to look at the process so that lawmakers have enough time to carry out their oversight role the next time the plan is updated.

Even though the plan goes in effect, the process sends it to the floor of the House  for a vote and if passed there on to the Senate.


Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West