Water Right Process
Filing, Reviewing and Legal Notice
There is a specific administrative process involved with any application for a new water right, any application to change an existing water right or any new statutory claim. It begins when you file the application or claim with IDWR and pay the required fee.
IDWR water agents will review the application or claim to make sure it contains all the necessary information. Then, a legal notice about the application and certain claims will be published once a week for two consecutive weeks. The legal notices are published so that other water users have an opportunity to become aware of and protest or disagree with what is being requested in the application or claim. These legal notices appear in a newspaper printed in the county in which the point of diversion is located. The notices detail the important elements of the application or claim including priority date, water source, nature of water use, point of diversion, amount of water, period of use, etc.
One crucial factor in the processing of water right applications is current water management actions, such as moratoriums, that may be in effect. Currently, there are special moratoriums covering many areas of the state. There are also areas which have been designated as critical ground water areas or ground water management areas in which any new ground water development is strictly controlled. IDWR water right agents can tell you if your application might be affected by one of these designated areas.
The department generally will not process applications proposing consumptive uses of ground water or surface water within the Eastern Snake River Plain area and certain tributary drainages because a moratorium prohibits new appropriations of water. However, the Department will process applications for non-consumptive uses such as domestic use, fish propagation, and hydropower generation. The department will process an application for a consumptive use of water if the applicant provides mitigation to offset injury to other water rights.
Protesting an Application
If you wish to file a protest against an application, there are certain things you must do.
If you protest a water right application, you and the applicant will first be given the chance to work out the problem. If you cannot, then either of you can request that IDWR schedule a formal hearing. The hearing is a legal process where evidence can be presented and testimony taken by a hearing officer.
After the hearing, the IDWR hearing officer will review all the evidence and testimony and will issue a recommended order, a document that details his recommended decision in the case. The record eventually will be reviewed by the IDWR director who will issue a final order, which sets out the formal IDWR decision. Depending on the specific application, the technical complexities involved, the number of protests, administrative appeals, court challenges, etc., it can take months, sometimes even years, to complete the process.
Applications against which protests have not been filed will be reviewed and analyzed by IDWR water rights managers who will make the decision. Provided there are no problems encountered with the application, this process typically takes 2-3 months from the time the application is filed.
Filing an Exception to a Statutory Claim
If you wish to file an exception to a statutory claim, there are certain things you must do:
Exceptions to a statutory claim will be made part of the claim file and will be considered the same as other evidence in the file. The filing and advertising of the the claim does not confirm the validity of the water right. It will serve to record and preserve the information, including any exceptions, regarding the claim. No further action by IDWR is authorized.
Correcting a Claim
Claims may be corrected by the claimant only by filing an amended claim in the same form as the original. No additional filing fee is required to file an amended claim.
Reviewing a Claim
You may review the original application or claim and supporting information in the office where it was filed.
The first two digits in the identification number of the water right correspond to the hydrologic basins administered by the regional offices. Water Right 36-99999 would be administered by the IDWR Southern Regional Office since it begins with 36.