By Jennifer Sandmann
Twin Falls Times-News
TWIN FALLS Some 21 Magic Valley water users had filed
petitions related to the possible shutdown of Northside wells
before Monday(March 15) night's announcement of a tentative
agreement averting curtailment.
The petitioners' circumstances are as varied as their numbers,
and they said loss of groundwater would leave their farms,
schools and even the Bliss rest area without water.
The filings with the Idaho Department of Water Resources
included mitigation proposals, pleas for relief and requests
for hearings. Many of the petitioners said they were not members
of groundwater districts that are proposing other mitigation
Here are some of the petitioners and their concerns:
Carey Water and Sewer District -- All of
the district's water would be cut off by curtailment. Eighty
percent of its water is delivered to Carey School. The rest
goes to 175 homes and 10 other establishments.
The district predicts curtailment wouldn't save any water
because water users would resort to drilling numerous unregulated
"Groundwater levels in the Carey area
have increased in recent years, suggesting little or no
relationship to diminishing flows at Thousand Springs,"
the district's petition says.
The Carey Valley Ground Water Users, which
diverts about 7,000 acre feet of water each year, also face
curtailment and make the same argument.
Small water users Small water users
including those on the outer borders of the affected Water
District 130 question whether their water use affects the
Hagerman Valley springs at all.
Arlen and MarLee Buerkle said they wouldn't
be able to water about 400 trees and grassy areas on 1.67
acres at their recreational vehicle park. They were asking
the department if they could use their unaffected wells
for watering instead.
Gene and Judi Frederickson of Jerome argued
that the state's curtailment order lacked proof that wells
10 or 20 or more miles away from the Snake River Canyon
could affect the springs. They also objected to a lack of
information about how much water is actually being used
by fish producers.
"Most groundwater pumpers who pump
groundwater for their crops have been true conservationists,
resorting to water savings techniques and management practices
to lessen waste. The order penalizes conservation of water
and good farm management practices," the Fredericksons'
City of Burley An area of town north
of the Snake River in Minidoka County has one well that
could be curtailed. The well was drilled in 1960, before
the July 13, 1962, cutoff date but was acquired by the city
in 1962. The city said the well's priority date should actually
be 1960 and also that the well does not affect the Hagerman
J.R. Simplot Co. The company has
about 86 acre feet of water that would be lost to curtailment,
including water to maintain humidity in potato storage.
Instead of shutting down these water rights, the company
proposed to mitigate for the 86 acre feet a year through
the closure of its Heyburn potato plant.
Simplot last week announced it will donate
the Heyburn property to the city of Burley. Burley City
Administrator Mark Mitton said the city has been negotiating
with Simplot over its industrial water rights that allow
pumping up to nearly 5 million gallons a day partially provided
by a 1959 water right. Burley could receive rights for up
to 2 million gallons, Mitton said.
In addition to the mitigation water it proposed,
the company has six other water rights at the Heyburn plant
that could be curtailed.
State water The Idaho Transportation
Department said it was determined in an earlier analysis
by Water Resources that water use at the Bliss rest area
would have a negligible affect on Bancroft Spring.
Clear Lakes Trout Co. The company,
which is suing Water Resources over groundwater management,
objected to an Idaho Dairymen's Association's petition for
a hold on the curtailment order. The trout producer says
a delay would further hurt the company's water supply and
petitioned to intervene in the dairymen's request.