Bedke: Let’s Secure Idaho’s Water for the Future

August 13, 2021

In Idaho, as in most of the west, water has always been a precious resource. Most notably, Idaho water has turned thousands of acres of desert into lush green fields that produce some of the finest crops and livestock in the United States. It is also key to maintaining healthy communities, creating recreational opportunity and drives our all facets of our economy. Without the wise use of our water, and continued efforts to protect and store all that we can, all that dries up. Idaho’s future depends on ensuring we always have the water we need.

Recently, we had our first meeting to discuss the multi-billion-dollar influx of federal funds Idaho expects to receive from what is otherwise known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The federal government has already borrowed these dollars and the debt will have to be repaid by all of us regardless of whether Idaho returns the money. With that in mind, it has always been my goal to find ways to invest this money that would provide long term benefits for Idaho families for years to come. Improving our water infrastructure, increasing aquifer storage, and securing water for generations would help every single Idahoan in a variety of ways. Working in partnership with our friends on the Idaho Water Resource Board, I am already developing a plan to use ARPA dollars to increase our state aquifer recharge capability.

Most Idaho cities and towns are dependent on our state’s underground water supplies, not only for drinking and home use, but for local industries to thrive and expand. Each time we divert water into our state’s aquifers by way of recharge, we are investing in our future. Successful recharge projects have been in place since 2015, we know the process works and now is the time to expand its reach. Storing water during seasons of plenty to be used later when supplies are short will keep Idaho on a path of water security.

As we all know, Idaho’s secret is out. Our population is exploding as people flock here to share in our way of life. That means a spiking demand on our water to supply more neighborhoods every week. All this is happening in the middle of debilitating drought conditions. We must have a responsible and sustainable response to the demands of Idaho’s continuing growth. These ARPA funds are a perfect opportunity to make the needed investments in our water now, to maintain Idaho’s way of life for years to come.

This ARPA money is yours. These are your tax dollars and those of generations to come. Though I would prefer not to increase our national debt, unfortunately, that choice has already been made for us and we must now make the best of the situation. I always have and always will take very seriously the responsibility of spending your money wisely. The wise course here is to fund the lifeblood of this state. I will fight to make sure Idaho can use our money how we know it needs to be used. I will continue to protect Idaho’s water into the future, not only for us, but for our children’s children.

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