Idaho State Government Issues Order to Shut Off Their Water Supply

Idaho’s agricultural sector, a cornerstone of the state’s economy, faces an unprecedented crisis as the state government has issued an order to shut off water supplies to farmers. This decision has sparked a dire warning from Idaho farmers, who caution that the ramifications could reverberate nationwide, potentially leading to widespread agricultural failures and economic instability.

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JUNE 2024, Idaho Farmer’s Water Is Being Shut Off. “A water shutoff order on literally a half million acres of farmland. — A lot of these farmers, and this impacts about 6,400 water users.”

“Property like this will become worthless. Without water, the land doesn’t have any value here.”

“The state of Idaho has put a water curtailment order, which is basically a water shutoff order on literally a half million acres of farmland.

— But a lot of these farmers that are farming this land have already invested thousands of acres, thousands of dollars per acre to grow potatoes. Good morning everyone. My name is Trevor Belknap. I operate a family farm, a fifth generation family farm in the Snake River Valley of eastern Idaho. I just wanted to visit with you for a minute about the impacts of the water curtailment order that’s been issued by Director Weaver from the Outer Department of Water Resources.

The situation which we find ourselves is about as bad as it gets. Not only will we be out of business, many other businesses will be highly impacted and you as my friends and neighbors will also be impacted because we’re so interconnected.

If the ag economy in eastern Idaho fails, which it surely will if this containment order is in place, it can remain in place, we’ll dry up and blow away just like it did back in the dust bowl of the 30s. Banks will fail. Equipment dealers, car dealers, gas stations, grocery stores, all rely on the ag economy that’s here in eastern Idaho. The children in our schools, how many of them belong to families who work in some form of ag industry in eastern Idaho?

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It’s horrible. And we need to fix it. And I would propose to you that it is not a water problem, it’s a management problem. Because we have water. Reservoirs are full. The mountains are covered in snow. The river’s been flowing well.

So why now? Why, after we’ve planted our crops, we have crops in the ground that are already growing. Now, in the middle of June, they pull a curtailment order to say you must cease pumping water. The cost is huge. An acre of potatoes costs upward of $4,000 an acre to grow. How will that ever be recovered? They will not grow without water. And what will that do to everyone else that’s reliant upon us in this area and the state of Idaho?

What will the counties do for roads and bridges, police departments, ambulances, and hospitals that rely on tax the tax base? Property like this will become worthless. Without water, the land doesn’t have any value here.”


From Magic Valley – In Idaho, water issues are governed by what is called the doctrine of prior appropriation, which means the older senior water rights have priority over the newer junior water rights. When there isn’t enough water to go around, the senior water rights get priority while the junior rights get curtailed, or shut off.

Generally, surface water users in Idaho have more senior water rights, while groundwater users have junior water rights.

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For example, the Twin Falls Canal Co. holds senior water rights that date back to 1900. On the other hand, the groundwater users affected by Thursday’s Idaho Department of Water Resources curtailment order hold junior water rights dating back to 1954.

Curtailment is coming into play because, in April, Weaver issued a water methodology order that predicted a water shortage of 74,100 acre-feet of water to the Twin Falls Canal Co.

The SOSs being sent to the American public by these farmers is an eery reminder of how easily and quickly our local, state, and federal governments, which are supposed to represent the will of the people, can control our food sources simply by picking winners and loser when it comes to who gets life-sustaining water and whose right to water will be restricted or in the case of the Idaho farmers, cut off.

The alarm raised by Idaho farmers should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers. The state’s decision has placed an undue burden on the agricultural sector, forcing farmers to confront the stark reality of their survival without sufficient water resources. The ramifications of this policy are clear: if the water shutoff continues, the resulting agricultural failures could lead to significant economic turmoil.

As this situation unfolds, it is imperative for state officials to reconsider their approach and engage with the farming community to find viable solutions. The warning from Idaho’s farmers is clear and urgent: without immediate action, the consequences will be far-reaching and potentially disastrous. The health of the nation’s agricultural sector and financial stability depends on swift and effective policy responses that ensure the sustainability of vital water resources for farming.


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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.


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