Official Government Website

Water Rights Overview

IDWR manages water in the State of Idaho through water allocation and distribution processes. Want to know how water is distributed in the 70 active water districts in Idaho? Read below for more answers!

ABOUT WATER RIGHTS
Water rights authorize the use of public water by private individuals and organizations. Water rights are real property rights, much like land property rights. 

ADJUDICATION
An adjudication is a court action for the determination of existing water rights which results in a decree that confirms and defines each water right. The purpose is to catalog and confirm through the court all water rights and to which property those water rights belong.

WATER DISTRICTS
Water districts are government entities with authority to raise assessments for the purpose of making local improvements or to assist state agencies in performing certain statutory functions related to water distribution within the districts.

WATER MEASUREMENT DISTRICTS
Water measurement districts accomplish measurement and reporting of diversions outside of established water districts.

IRRIGATION ORGANIZATIONS
An irrigation organization delivers water to the acreage authorized for the water rights within the boundaries controlled by the irrigation organization.

GROUNDWATER DISTRICTS
Groundwater Districts can perform the measurement and reporting functions required by law and levy assessments like Water Measurement Districts. Additionally, Groundwater Districts may represent their members in various water use issues and related legal matters, develop and operate mitigation and recharge plans, as well as perform other duties.

GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT AREAS (GWMA)
The IDWR Director is granted authority for designating areas for regulating groundwater withdrawals from aquifers subject to insufficient supplies based on groundwater level trends. A Groundwater Management Area is all or part of a groundwater basin that may be approaching the conditions of a Critical Groundwater Area.

GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICTS (GWMD)
Groundwater Management Districts are created “to provide for financing of repair or abandonment of wells in aquifers which have experienced or are experiencing declines in water level or water pressures because of flow, leakage, and waste from improper construction, maintenance, and operation of wells drilled into the aquifer.”

CRITICAL GROUNDWATER AREAS (CGWA)
A Critical Groundwater Area is all or part of a groundwater basin that does not have sufficient groundwater to provide a reasonably-safe supply for irrigation or other uses at the current or projected rates of withdrawal.

AQUIFER RECHARGE DISTRICTS (ARD)
Aquifer Recharge Districts are created upon petition of water right holders within a proposed area for the purpose of raising assessments to manage recharge facilities and conduct recharge projects.

FEDERAL WILD & SCENIC RIVERS TRIBUTARIES WATER RIGHTS
Review the stipulations and decrees plus search the applications tributary to the Salmon, Owyhee, and St. Joe Wild & Scenic Rivers.

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