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Meeting water challenges in Idaho through water banking




Gregg, Jerrold D., author
Rigby, Richard M., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Idaho authorized water banking in 1979. Today, a statewide water bank functions as well as local rental pools. Stored water and natural flows are traded. The water bank and local rental pools are used to meet the needs of irrigators suffering from drought induced water shortages, to meet instream flow needs of endangered species, and to meet the needs of water users having junior priority surface or ground water rights. Both lessors and lessees have benefited from water rentals. This paper will focus mainly on recent experiences in the Upper Snake (the Snake River above Milner Dam near Burley, Idaho) and Payette Rental Pools, the two most active in the State. Both Rental Pools have been very successful. Particularly in the Payette Basin, income from rentals has enabled water users to upgrade their irrigation systems with resulting significant improvements in water management. The Upper Snake Rental Pool, while also experiencing significant rentals and opportunities for water users, has had to deal with drought induced competition for water that seriously challenged rental pool managers. Setting prices in changing economic conditions, addressing impacts to non-participating water users, and determining priorities among prospective uses were all addressed. Conflicts have not ended, but it is fair to say that through the persistence and dedication of rental pool managers and participants, the challenges were successfully addressed.


Presented at Emerging challenges and opportunities for irrigation managers: energy, efficiency and infrastructure: a USCID water management conference held on April 26-29, 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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