Courtesy Idaho Department of Water Resources
The Idaho Department of Water Resources sent curtailment orders to 36 users diverting groundwater from the East Snake Plain Aquifer in the state’s south-central region.
The July 31 order instructed watermasters to shut off diversions from groundwater wells starting Aug. 6 for failing to install department-approved flow meters by the start of the 2018 irrigation season. Watermasters in districts 100,110, 120, 130 and 140 were authorized to shut off and seal wells listed in the curtailment order. The order impacts 33 wells; some affected users operate more than one well.
The meters are required under a 2015 settlement among groundwater users and a coalition of surface water users in south central Idaho as well as a 2016 order by the IDWR director saying the approximately 5,500 affected groundwater users must comply by early this year.
IDWR Deputy Director Matthew Weaver said more curtailments could be ordered, but most groundwater users in the region are in compliance based on field inspections or users notifying the department that they installed flow meters, or filed for an extension or variance.
The department in the last couple of years, in addition to notifying groundwater users well ahead of the deadline, sent multiple notices and received additional Idaho Legislature funding to add ESPA-focused administrative staff, he said.
The curtailment order impacts irrigators, stock water users and domestic water users. The physical curtailments stay in effect until a department-approved flow meter is installed or a variance or extension request is approved.
From IDWR headquarters in Boise, officials Tim Luke, Brian Ragan and Rob Whitney are providing assistance.