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Chief Allan: Coeur d'Alene Tribe looking to adjudicate water rights

Chief Allan. Photo from Coeut d'Alene Tribe Council Fires / Facebook

Chief Allan, the chairman of the Coeut d'Alene Tribe, explains why the tribe is seeking to quantify its water rights in Idaho:
You have probably heard that the water rights in the Coeur d'Alene-Spokane River Basin will soon be adjudicated, including rights to the water in Lake Coeur d'Alene and its tributaries. And maybe you've heard that the Coeur d'Alene Tribe has filed for water rights in the area. I want to tell you a few things about our claims and explain why we have filed for rights in the basin.

We are most interested in making sure that the lake and its tributaries have enough water to protect future generations of people, animals and fish living in the basin and as a result, many of our claims are related to protecting the lake levels and in-stream flows to keep our lake levels where they are now. We also have filed some claims for domestic, business and agricultural uses on our reservation. These claims will provide water for homes on the reservation, the Tribe's businesses and tribal government operations for perpetuity.

Similar to other municipalities in the basin and even many of you, the state adjudication process forces us all to try and quantify how much water to which we have a right. We're lucky where we live because there is a lot of water to go around. But that doesn't mean the Tribe is claiming all of the water in the lake or the rivers. To put it into perspective, the tribal water rights claims for consumptive uses represent less than 1 percent of the total water available in the basin.

Across the country, water rights claims often end up in litigation for decades, which is why we support negotiating our water rights claims here in the Coeur d'Alene-Spokane River Basin. A negotiation will be faster, cheaper, more efficient and fair to the most people. We don't anticipate that the Tribe's water rights claims will conflict with the vast majority of claims in the basin but in the event there are conflicts, we expect that most stakeholders will be more satisfied with the negotiation process and the end result.

Get the Story:
Chief Allan: Water at heart of region and its people (The Coeur d'Alene Press 9/5)

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