North Idaho to Hash Out Water Rights

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Lake Coeur d'Alene, in the North Idaho Panhandle. - NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK
  • Northwest News Network
  • Lake Coeur d'Alene, in the North Idaho Panhandle.

North Idaho is a water-abundant area, unlike the lower half of the state. Despite that, Idaho is preparing to establish water rights up north, according to the Northwest News Network

This process will determine who has "dibs" on water flowing through the Coeur d'Alene Basin. Helo Hancock, legislative director for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, told the Northwest News Network he hopes the discussions won't be as contentious as they are in other, drier, parts of the state. In those areas, sorting out claims like these have taken years—sometimes decades.

"We have enough rain. It's all dry-land farming," Hancock said. "We live in some of the most fertile areas in the world."

But those negotiations impact flows across the border to Washington, as well.

Hancock added it's likely that in the future, the state of Washington will make demands on how much water flows from Idaho via the Spokane River. The Northwest News Network reported that Idaho politicians want to make their claims now. The federal government made 353 water claims for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, many of which helped maintain Lake Coeur d'Alene at its current level.

Claims can be filed through the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Objections can be filed until Monday, Sept. 29.