Apr 28 2008
During April, the Idaho Water Resource Board in a
partnership with the city of Twin Falls, North Snake and
Magic Valley ground water districts, completed a series of
transactions resulting in the purchase of Pristine Springs
fish farm operation. The transactions are designed to
address conflicts between spring water users and ground
water users in Magic Valley as well as provide the city of
Twin Falls with a fresh water source to improve the quality
of its water supply and provide for future growth of the city.
The acquisition of Pristine Springs provides ground
water users with replacement water to address the Blue
Lakes Trout Farm delivery call by making available 10 cubic
feet per second (cfs) of water for mitigating ground water
user’s depletions on spring flows at the Blue Lakes trout
facility. The acquisition provides for a permanent solution
to one of the water calls and keeps farmland in production
that would have been dried up. The water districts will pay
$11 million in total, $1 million initially plus $10 million and
interest for ten years as part of a loan from the IWRB. The
IWRB will eventually have the $10 million plus interest
returned to its revolving loan program which will be used to
finance other water projects across the state.
The water provided by the water districts will avoid the
need to curtail as many as 30,000 acres of ground water
irrigated farmland thereby avoiding an estimated economic
impact of $80 million to $100 million to the region.
The purchase also avoids potential water delivery calls
from Pristine Springs and the city of Twin Falls. In
addition, the acquisition resolves a lawsuit between the
Department of Environmental Quality and the former owner
of Pristine Springs concerning the amount of effluent
returned to the Snake River by the fish farm operation.
The city of Twin Falls benefits from the plan and will
contribute $10 million to acquire a clean water source in
order to comply with federal water quality standards. The
alternative for the city was to build a $33 million water
treatment facility. The city will also have use of additional
spring water to meet future growth.
Included in the acquisition of the Pristine Springs are
two hydropower facilities that will generate approximately
$100,000 per year under current agreements with Idaho
Power. That revenue, in excess of operating costs, will be
returned to the IWRB revolving loan program.
As part of the agreement, IWRB will lease the property
back to the current owner to continue some fish farming
operations for at least the next two years. The funds gained
from the lease will further reduce the Board’s purchase
In addition to the numerous water supply benefits of the
transaction, the State will own water rights for more than
200 cfs of water, 400 acres of prime river front property
(including 200 irrigated acres), fish hatchery and
hydropower facilities, and other buildings on the property.
The $5 million in funding contributed by the Board is the
result of an appropriation to the IWRB by the Idaho
Legislature in 2006 to acquire water and facilities to help
resolve water conflicts in the Thousand Springs area.
The deal resulted from the leadership of Governor Otter,
Speaker Denney, Pro- Tem Geddes, Co-Chairmen of JFAC,
Senator Dean Cameron and Representative Maxine Bell and
the Idaho Water Resource Board. The acquisition was
approved by the Joint Appropriation Finance Committee on
March 12, 2008 by a 20 to 0 vote. It was also unanimously
approved by the IWRB on March 14, 2008.
Contact: Bob McLaughlin – 208-287-4828 April 28