Lemhi River Basin Settlement Overview
In February 2022, local water users reached agreement on the terms of a historic Lemhi River Basin Settlement Agreement, which looks to resolve long-standing water use conflict in the basin. In March 2022, both houses of the Idaho Legislature unanimously passed House Bill 749, which codified key terms of the Settlement into Idaho law. The bill was signed by Governor Brad Little on March 28, 2022.
The Lemhi River Basin Settlement Agreement had three objectives: resolve protested water right applications; establish water rights for the long-time Lemhi Basin practice of diverting high-flow water during the spring runoff; and establish minimum streamflow water rights.
In achieving the three objectives, the parties to the Settlement agreed to two fundamental principles: one, the Settlement is a voluntary agreement; and two, it has no effect on existing water rights in the basin.
The Settlement outlines two overarching “Water Right Settlement Agreement Goals:”
- Business Goal: Preserve and enhance farming and ranching lifestyle and promote economic develop in the Lemhi River Basin.
- Biological Goal: Conserve, restore, and enhance sufficient habitat to sustain viable fish populations in the Lemhi River Basin.