Candidates Oppose Snake Dam Breachingby Dave Wilkins
Capital Press, October 20, 2006
Water group polls 202 state office-seekers
Candidates running for state office expressed strong opposition to Snake River dam breaching and increased flow augmentation, according to a survey conducted by Idaho's largest water group.
The Idaho Water Users Association sent surveys to 202 candidates listed on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. The survey asked candidates where they stood on 10 key water issues. Eighty-two responded, for a 41 percent response rate.
"What's clear from the survey is that on the most visible issues candidates have some firm opinions," IWUA Executive Director Norm Semanko said.
The surveys were sent out to all candidates for statewide office, including the state Legislature, governor and two U.S. House seat races.
Semanko said it was important for the association to know where most candidates stood on the issues in general, even though the group doesn't endorse individual candidates.
Nearly eight out of 10 candidates said they oppose dam breaching as part of salmon recovery efforts, and an even stronger majority - 88 percent - said they oppose increased flow augmentation.
The results show that most candidates don't buy the argument promoted by some environmental groups that either dam breaching or increased flow augmentation is necessary for salmon recovery, Semanko said.
"The level of opposition to both dam removal and flow augmentation remained very high, which tells me that people don't view it as an either/or proposition," he said.
The water users' group believes that neither dam breaching nor flow augmentation is necessary.
"The candidate survey clearly indicates that most of those responding hold beliefs similar to those of the IWUA membership," Semanko said.
A firm majority of respondents - 87 percent - said they would support the development of additional water storage projects such as reservoirs.
"It shows a recognition that there are growing and competing demands for water," Semanko said.
Eighty percent of the candidates who responded said they support allocations under Idaho's "first in time, first in right" laws rather than water going for the "highest and best" use.
More than half (55 percent) said they would support management of surface and ground water as a single resource under the Prior Appropriation Doctrine. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said they would oppose such management and almost as many (21 percent) had no position.
Some candidates indicated that they needed more information in order to respond to some questions, and Semanko said the results of the survey made it clear that the association "must continue to provide information and education to our political leaders."
IDAHO WATER USERS ASSOCIATION
2006 GENERAL ELECTION CANDIDATE SURVEY RESULTS
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