April 20, 2005

CRAPO: DROUGHT, POLITICS NECESSITATE LOCAL WATER SOLUTIONS

Senator warns Congress, outside interests can step in

Washington, DC â?? Idaho residents must continue to work together to find solutions to ongoing water issues or risk the threat that the federal government or interests from out of state will step in to override local interests, warned Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo spoke by satellite this morning to attendees at the Idaho Statesman and Andrus Centerâ??s â??Troubled Waterâ?? conference at Boise State University. â??The federal government now offers the â??carrot and stickâ?? of landowner incentives and water regulatory authority under laws like the Endangered Species Act or Clean Water Act,â?? Crapo said. â??But the federal government has also recognized state water authority. Proactive planning must continue so that states retain water control.â?? Crapo said. â??With the drought, we will see increasing pressure regarding water allocation issues. We must focus on collaboration and consensus-driven decisions at the local level, which can then be brought to the Congress for ratification.â?? Crapo held water talks between irrigators and salmon advocates in September 2003. He has also spearheaded collaborative efforts related to elk recovery, the Owyhee Initiative, and, most recently, reducing litigation and improving recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act. He said locally-driven consensus planning improves state water control issues before the Congress. â??The dynamics surrounding the close voting margins in the United States Senate mean that the proposals with the most success will come from local collaborative efforts agreed to by all sides of an issue. The more we can agree at the local level, the better the chance that local agreement will survive a vote in a divided Senate,â?? Crapo added. Crapo also commented briefly on his efforts to improve the ESA in response to questions from participants at the conference. He said a bipartisan coalition of both the U.S. House and Senate are working to reduce litigation which robs resources that could better be spent recovering species. Crapo noted the group is focusing on what is politically and legally achievable to repeat the problems of lawsuits which stop progress under the ESA. To directly link to this news release please use the following address: http://crapo.senate.gov/media/newsreleases/release_full.cfm?id=236665