Beginning around 1919, Water District 01 (formerly Water District 36) began keeping formal records of water rights accounting of the upper Snake River (above the Milner Dam). This accounting process regulates water use on the Snake River and helps ensure that water is delivered to all water users in a manner commensurate with Idaho law and the Bureau of Reclamation’s storage space contracts.
For more than half a century, water rights accounting was done manually. In 1977, a program was written to take advantage of the burgeoning power of computers which automated the calculations underlying the water rights accounting process. In 2012, the same program written in 1977 (with few modifications) was still used by WD01 to perform accounting for the district. During its evolution, the WD01 accounting program grew to include approximately 345 diversions, 1,142 water rights authorizing a combined diversion rate in excess of 122,000 cubic feet per second, and approximately 4,185,695 acre feet of storage water contained in nine separate reservoirs.
The water rights accounting program has undergone many updates over the life cycle. The most recent of which has been a translation from Fortran to the C#.NET programming language. This update allows for the development of new features including a GIS map interface, more flexible reporting options, and improved data management. Ultimately however, this update better enables the program to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of water use through increased program flexibility and opportunities for integration with other database and software platforms used by the water districts and IDWR.
Recognizing that water right regulation is of vital interest to affected water right holders, IDWR and WD01 (in conjunction with the Committee of Nine) established a special committee of representative canal managers to observe and provide feedback on program updates. With this committee’s involvement, IDWR can provide an informed and transparent process when transitioning to new, more modern methods of conducting water rights accounting in the districts.