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Water rights claims workshops on tap

by DAILY BEE STAFF
| April 22, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT – The Idaho Department of Water Resources is hosting a series of public workshops next month to help area residents file water rights claims as part of the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basin Adjudication.

The Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basin Adjudication enables existing water users to claim the quantities and priority dates for their water rights and have them recognized by an Idaho Court decree.

IDWR staff will be available at the Ponderay Events Center on May 3-5, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. IDWR staff will be on hand to answer questions and help people with filing water right claims first-come, first-served basis. To avoid longer wait times, IDWR recommends avoiding peak busy periods around 8 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5 p.m. Officials recommend coming at off-peak hours, if possible, officials said in a press release.

IDWR officials said the purpose of the adjudication process is simple and straightforward — to document and protect the rights held by water users.

Since September 2021, IDWR has sent out approximately 17,000 notices to property owners, notifying them about the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basin Adjudication and requesting water rights claims be filed. Additional notices will be mailed in the coming months. Water users that have yet to receive notices are still welcome to attend the workshop.

Filing complex water rights claims or multiple claims may take more time and could require follow-up through additional appointments or by telephone, e-mail, or written communication, IDWR officials said in a press release.

To assist in the process, IDWR officials said residents should bring along their property tax notice with parcel information, any related water right records, and knowledge of the facts related to the development of water use on their property, especially the date when the water was first used.

IDWR officials said last year that they have records for about 2,700 water rights on file for Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River drainages. However, they expect that up to 9,000 water right claims will be filed in the area as part of the adjudication process.

Payment of filing fees for water rights claims can be made during the public workshops in Sandpoint. For cash transactions, please bring the exact amount due.

For additional information, including a map of the adjudication area and the filing fee schedule, go to www.idwr.idaho.gov or call:

• Adjudication Hotline: (800) 451-4129

• Northern Region Office: (208) 762-2800

In related news, the Lakes Commission and IDWR staff are co-hosting an informational meeting on Thursday, April 28, in Sandpoint to explain the water rights adjudication process for the Clark Fork - Pend Oreille Basin Adjudication.

The meeting will be held at the University of Idaho Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center, 10881 N. Boyer Road. It will take place from 6-7:30 p.m.

People who received a water right claim filing notice in the mail from IDWR may have questions about the benefits of adjudicating water rights. The purpose of this meeting is to get those questions answered, officials said.

In addition to IDWR representatives, guest speakers Norm Semanko and State Senator Jim Woodward will attend the information meeting and present their thoughts about the adjudication. Semanko grew up in North Idaho and is a well-known water law attorney in Idaho. Woodward is currently serving legislative District 1.

For information on the April 28 meeting, contact Molly McCahon, executive director, Lakes Commission, 208-265-4568; lakescommission@gmail.com; web: lakes-commission.com.

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