Irrigation - Water Use In Idaho

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Irrigation - Water Use In Idaho

Purpose and Codes that Relate to Irrigation Water Users.

Irrigation water users need to understand the water laws, irrigation systems, irrigation design, irrigation equipment, irrigation repair options to properly maintain their ditches and their rights to irrigation water. The purpose of this web site is to help a property owner(s) to understand the Idaho's water codes, provides an example of a rotation schedule for user water times, provide the law basis to resolves misunderstanding with neighbors, cities, and counties.

With this information you can ensure that new development protects new neighbors without harming the current land use by current neighbors or placing new projects or current owners at risk for water damage. The information should help irrigation water users and non irrigation water users impacted by ditch easements to understand their individual property owners' responsibilities.

A water user(s)/ditch owner(s) are responsible for their own ditch cleaning, ditch and head gate maintenance on lateral ditches that are not own or controlled by an water district. The ditch owner(s) is anyone or organization (two or more persons) that has an open or closed ditch on their property or along the property right-a-way without regard to whether the property owner elects to use their water rights.

Due to non communication between developers, cities, counties and state many property owners are growing increasing hostile over water issues. Many lateral ditch associations do not have maps to show owners where ditches, pipes and control boxes are located. As the irrigation systems age there is a greater lost of irrigation water and damage to property. Due to government agencies non performance in maintaining a master file of ditches and irrigation water user associations, cities are over stepping state statues and permitting improper types of pipes, incorrect placement of pipes, water boxes below the ditch grade and letting developers cover ditches and water boxes so new property owners have no visual reference that a irrigation ditch is in their neighbor hood or property. Cities in many cases have a water district sign off on project without consulting lateral ditch associations.

Irrigation Water Users water rights are established under Idaho's beneficial use method.

Laws of Lateral Ditch water user per the Idaho State Statues provide the guidance for property owner responsibilities.

Idaho Water Rights

Article 15, Section 3, of the Idaho Constitution states: The right to divert and appropriate the unappropriated waters of any natural stream to beneficial uses, shall never be denied, except that the state may regulate and limit the use thereof for power purposes.

An Idaho Water Right Primer

The general rule of thumb for Idaho water rights is: if you intend to put public waters to some form of beneficial use, it is against the law to do so without a valid water right. The exception is water for domestic use where, under specific conditions, a recorded water right is not required. Idaho law provides for civil penalties for appropriating water without a valid water right.

Lateral Ditch Associations

Lateral ditch associations need to draft clear rules/codes that all persons impacted by irrigation water can agree on by a majority vote. Lateral ditch associations need to give notice to all persons impacted by irrigation a clear means to write or other contact means to reach a lateral ditch associations officer to help resolve water issues in a timely fashion.

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I will try to provide clear examples, products and services to help with educating water users and owners impacted by ditch easements.

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Additional Information: URL and E-mail Links

Ada County Highway District

Report trees, brush or water in the road ways

Phone No.: 208-387-6100

ACHD Web Site

Nampa & Meridian
Irrigation District

Phone No: 208-466-7861


Maintains Ada county's official plat maps and processes property deeds. It also maintains an Online Property Information System This is the place to see parcel maps and parcel value information. Best with IE 5.5 browser or higher.

Digline, Inc.

If you're planning to dig or build near irrigation lines, Idaho law says you must call for permission first. See Idaho State Statues

Phone No: 1-800-342-1585
From Boise: 342-1585


Digline Web Site

Idaho Department of
Water Resources

Mr. John Westra
Western Region Manager
2735 Airport Way
Boise, ID 83705-5082

Ph.: (208) 334-2190
Fax: (208) 334-2348

e-mail: "Westra, John"

Planting & Structure
Guide lines

Lawn & Flowers: within right away area

Dwarf Trees: 15' or more from center of ditch/pipe

semi-Dwarf Trees: 25' or more from center of ditch/pipe

Trees 60' or less: 35' or more from center of ditch/pipe

Trees 60' or larger: 50' or more from center of ditch/pipe

Structures: 15' or more from center of ditch/pipe

Special Notes/Information

If you have suggestions to help water users or owners effected by ditches or ditch easements drop me a comment at

Volume of Water for Ditches

1 miner inch = 9.0513886 gallons of water per minute
98 miner inches of water = 887.036 gallons of water per minute
98 miner inches of water X 24 hours = 1,277,331.9 gallons of water per day

The average lawn uses 7200 gallons of water per week,
31,176 gallons of water per month, and 218,232 gallons of water per season.

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