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Water Right Adjudications

Idaho Water Right Adjudications

Water Right Adjudications in IdahoWhen the ownership, validity, or extent of a water right is disputed, a lawsuit may be filed to have a judge resolve the dispute. This is called an adjudication. Idaho law allows private adjudications to resolve disputes between individual water users, but in recent history most water rights have been adjudicated on a regional basis through a general adjudication.

The historic Snake River Basin Adjudication (SRBA) was initiated by the Idaho legislature in 1987 to inventory all of the water rights in the Snake River Basin. A special court system in Twin Falls was created to manage this large and complex case. It concluded in 2014 after resolving nearly 160,000 water right claims. We were heavily involved in the SRBA, representing numerous individual water users while also participating in several “basin-wide” issues which defined more global issues affecting all water users.

As the SRBA neared completion, the State of Idaho initiated an adjudication of water rights in northern Idaho beginning in 2008. This case is being handled by the court in Twin Falls because of its specialized expertise in water rights, and is ongoing.

More recently the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) has conducted a number of informational meetings to discuss a proposal to adjudicate the water rights in the Bear River Basin. If commenced, this adjudication would include both surface and ground water rights in those portions of Bannock, Bear Lake, Caribou, Cassia, Franklin, Oneida, and Power Counties within the Bear River Basin.

We are familiar with the interstate compact between Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming concerning use of the Bear River, we participated in development of the Bear River Ground Water Management Area, and we have advised various water users in the Bear River Basin for decades. This experience combined with our involvement in the SRBA uniquely positions Racine Olson to effectively represent clients in the Bear River Basin Adjudication should it commence.

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