Officials gather to discuss water shortages in Idaho

This week’s conference is about more than just discussion, it’s about action
Drought continues to be a major topic in Idaho
Drought continues to be a major topic in Idaho(Idaho Fish and Game)
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 5:22 PM MDT
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SUN VALLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — On Monday and Tuesday, some of the most influential minds in Idaho water usage are in Sun Valley discussing some of the realities facing the Gem State’s water supply.

“Right now, we’re struggling to meet even current water supply needs,” said Paul Arrington, the Executive Director of the Idaho Water Users Association. He tells me there are massive challenges facing the Gem State’s irrigation system.

But, the annual Water Law and Resources Issues Seminar is a place where those challenges often find solutions.

“This year we’re talking about drought, we’re talking about aging water infrastructure, which is a huge issue in Idaho, we’re talking about how to maximize the dollars that are available, whether it be for watershed projects or water quality or building infrastructure,” Arrington said.

Arrington says this year is unlike any other, calling it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He says one factor that sets 2022 apart from years past is money.

“Last year, Idaho’s legislature appropriated nearly $350 million for water projects in Idaho, the president signed into law the bipartisan infrastructure bill which was that many more billions and billions of dollars,” Arrington said.

But this week’s conference is about more than just discussion, it’s about action.

How the group moves forward from this seminar will prove if this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is seized or wasted.

“If we keep spending money the way we’ve always been spending money, we’re going to be in the same place as soon as that money is gone,” said CEO of The Freshwater Trust, Joe Whitworth. “What we have to do is coordinate that and integrate that so that an entire watershed can benefit in a quantified way.”

Arrington knows this week could have a massive impact on Idaho’s ability to continue to be the agricultural hub it has been known to be and is ready for the challenge.

“There is a lot of pressure to get stuff done, but it’s exciting because it’s a really great opportunity,” said Arrington.

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