Irrigation has transformed much of the desert landscape in Southern Idaho, with the aid of vast networks of irrigation canals, ditches, and pipelines. urban areas expand into agricultural zones, conflicts occasionally arise over the scope and maintenance of irrigation easements.
Most irrigation easements are not memorialized in written document recorded in the county recorder’s office, but instead are established solely through historic use. Under Idaho law, the visible existence of an irrigation ditch or canal is sufficient to put landowners on notice that an easement exists.
Moreover, the owners of canals and ditches have a legal duty to maintain them in good order and repair, which almost always requires the use of heavy equipment. Accordingly, irrigation easements include the right to cross private property with equipment reasonably adapted to the size and location of the canal or ditch, and to deposit debris and other material along the side of the canal or ditch. In addition, landowners whose land is crossed by an irrigation canal or ditch are not permitted to install utilities, fences, structures, landscaping or other encroachments that would impair the ability of the ditch or canal owner to maintain it.
Irrigation is serious business in Idaho, and our clients take seriously their duty to maintain canal and ditch easements. We can help protect irrigation easements and resolve conflicts relating to them.