Assessing Idaho's Future Water Administration Needs: An Idaho Water Court?
thesisposted on 01.04.2016, 00:00 by Jared Fluckiger
Idaho recently finished the Snake River Basin Adjudication (SRBA). It is now commencing a few other Idaho adjudications. Idaho will soon have to decide what its future water administration will look like once the SRBA court is done with its adjudicative work. Idaho follows the prior appropriation doctrine like most other western states. This doctrine has evolved to meet modern demands, and will continue to do so in the future. There are other western states that have implemented prior appropriation differently than Idaho. Montana and Colorado are two examples that illustrate some of the merits, and drawbacks of alternative approaches. Idaho should consider its future needs, as well as the potential benefits to be gained, as it begins to decide how it will administer water rights in the future and which elements to incorporate. Some of Idaho's future needs include smaller adjudications, as well as administrative appeals from the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and conjunctive management issues. There will also be water implications from climate change and population growth that will result in increased disputes. There is a growing need for judicial expertise in Idaho's future to resolve water conflicts. Because there are considerable benefits to be gained from a specialized judge, Idaho should designate one district court as the de facto state water court once the SRBA court is done. This approach is the most practical considering Idaho's circumstances. Idaho should begin identifying future needs and potential solutions now.