Trout Unlimited’s attorney reached out Tuesday to the canal company that came out on the losing side of a decision protecting the Bear River and its rare Bonneville cutthroat trout.
The Idaho Department of Water Resources denied a water permit for a proposed dam on the Oneida Narrows, a popular recreation area on the Bear River in southeastern Idaho. Every environmental group in the area and Pacificorp opposed the dam, working together to convince the state that the public interest lied with keeping the river free-flowing.
Peter Anderson, counsel for TU’s Idaho Water Project in Boise said in a press release the decision offers a “fresh start” for addressing water needs in Franklin County.
“TU is not interested in a ‘touchdown dance,” Anderson said. “We would sincerely like to help Twin Lakes address their water needs, but in a way that enhances, not destroys, the fishery.”
Anderson and Trout Unlimited worked with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, irrigation districts, federal agencies, farmers and others on the Treasure Valley Comprehensive Aquifer Management Plan, which was sent out for public comment this month. The talks about how to manage the aquifer and water supplies for the next 50 years started out polarized.
But the plan, whichcalls for studying new storage and other water supply solutions, promoting groundwater conservation, and better measuring, modeling and monitoring tools, now has a consensus to move forward.
“The old way of doing business on water—us vs. them—doesn’t work anymore in resolving some of the difficult water challenges we face in Idaho and the West,” Anderson said. “Instead of fighting, we have to work together to find solutions that work for everyone.”
He pointed the Bear River agreement reached between environmentalists and PacifiCorp as a model.
The Twin Lakes water system, he said, is “incredibly leaky” and fixing the leaks could provide a better water solution than a new dam.
“A solution is doable,” he said.