336 P.3d 792 (Idaho 2014), 40974, In re SRBA
|Docket Nº:||40974, 40975|
|Citation:||336 P.3d 792, 157 Idaho 385|
|Opinion Judge:||BURDICK, Chief Justice|
|Party Name:||IN RE SRBA, CASE NO. 39576, SUBCASE 00-91017 (BASIN-WIDE ISSUE 17 - DOES IDAHO LAW REQUIRE A REMARK AUTHORIZING STORAGE RIGHTS TO 'REFILL', UNDER PRIORITY, SPACE VACATED FOR FLOOD CONTROL). A& B IRRIGATION DISTRICT, BURLEY IRRIGATION DISTRICT, MILNER IRRIGATION DISTRICT, NORTH SIDE CANAL COMPANY, TWIN FALLS CANAL COMPANY, MINIDOKA IRRIGATION DISTRI|
|Attorney:||Barker, Rosholt & Simpson, LLP, Twin Falls, for appellants. Travis L. Thompson argued in case number 40974 for appellant Surface Water Coalition and Albert P. Barker argued in 40975 for appellant Boise Project Board. Fletcher Law Office, Burley, for appellants American Falls Irrigation District #...|
|Judge Panel:||BURDICK, Chief Justice. Justices EISMANN, J. JONES, HORTON and SCHROEDER, Pro tem, CONCUR. Justices EISMANN, J. JONES, HORTON and SCHROEDER, Pro tem, CONCUR.|
|Case Date:||August 04, 2014|
|Court:||Supreme Court of Idaho|
2014 Opinion No. 78.
Appeal from the Snake River Basin Adjudication, State of Idaho. Hon. Eric J. Wildman, District Judge.
Snake River Basin Adjudication Court's decision, vacated.
[157 Idaho 387]
This appeal arises out of the Snake River Basin Adjudication (SRBA) court's decision on the following basin-wide issue: Does Idaho law require a remark authorizing storage rights to " refill," under priority, space vacated for flood control? The SRBA court concluded that a remark was not necessary because a storage water right that is filled cannot refill under priority before affected junior appropriators satisfy their water rights once. The court declined to address when the quantity element of a storage water right is considered filled. Seven Magic Valley irrigation districts and canal companies (collectively the " Surface Water Coalition" ) appeal this decision in Docket No. 40974. The Boise Project Board appeals this decision in Docket No. 40975. Because both cases appeal the same decision of the SRBA court and have significant overlap, we address them together in this opinion.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The basis of this appeal, Basin-Wide Issue 17, arose from several individual SRBA subcases
[157 Idaho 388] that involved the question of how filling a reservoir after the release of flood control waters should be addressed on the face of partial decrees for storage water rights in the Palisades and American Falls Reservoirs. Both the State and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) took the position that a remark is necessary on the face of a water right to authorize the right to refill. Reclamation wanted the following remark under the quantity element of its water right: " This water right includes the right to refill under the priority date of this water right to satisfy the United States' storage contracts." The State disagreed with the language of Reclamation's proposed refill remark. It proffered the following alternate remark, arguing that it more accurately reflects Idaho law on storage refill:
This right is filled for a given irrigation season when the total quantity of water that has been accumulated to storage under this right equals the decreed quantity. Additional water may be stored under this right but such additional storage is incidental and subordinate to all existing and future water rights.
As a result of the remarks proposed by Reclamation and the State, a dispute arose over Idaho law on storage refill. Several irrigation districts in the Treasure Valley, whose storage water rights were already decreed without a remark on refill rights, were concerned that the outcome of the storage refill issue might affect their right to the use of storage water. Therefore, Reclamation, the Surface Water Coalition, and the Boise Project Board, among others, filed a petition to designate a basin-wide issue arguing that the issue of storage refill was an issue of basin-wide significance and should be resolved in a basin-wide proceeding. In addition, the Surface Water Coalition asserted that the following two issues should also be addressed as part of the basin-wide proceeding to clarify and guide administration of storage water rights:
(1) [Whether] [t]he storage right holder determines when to divert water to storage in order to maximize the beneficial use of water under this right.
(2) [Whether] [t]he beneficial use under this right is fully satisfied when the water stored and available for beneficial use equals the capacity of the reservoir.
The SRBA court entered an order granting the petition and designating the following issue as Basin-Wide Issue 17: " Does Idaho law require a remark authorizing storage rights to 'refill,' under priority, space vacated for flood control?" The court recognized that the issue was fundamentally an issue of law, noting that " [w]hen asked if the issue could be addressed in a basin-wide setting without the need to develop factual records specific to individual reservoirs, the Petitioners represented that little, if any, factual record development would be necessary." Accordingly, the court limited the scope of the basin-wide proceeding as follows:
[T]he Court will not consider the specific factual circumstances, operational history, or historical agreements associated with any particular reservoir in conjunction with this basin-wide issue. Such specific factual inquiries do not lend themselves to review in a basin-wide proceeding involving many parties and many reservoirs. Rather, the basin-wide issue will be limited to the above-identified issue of law.
The SRBA court declined to address either of the Surface Water Coalition's additional proposed issues pertaining to how a storage right is initially filled, finding that these issues were not well situated for resolution in a basin-wide proceeding. In declining to address the Surface Water Coalition's issues regarding fill, the...
To continue readingFREE SIGN UP