Idaho Power Company v. Idaho Dept of Water ResourcesAnnotate this Case
The Idaho Department of Water Resources (Department) appealed an order of the district court that required it to strike a term from a hydropower water right license issued to the Idaho Power Company. In 1984, an agreement was entered into between Idaho Power, the State, the governor, and the attorney general, in an effort to resolve a controversy associated with the company's water rights at the Swan Falls Dam. As part of the Swan Falls agreement, the parties agreed to support legislation for the commencement of an adjudication of water rights in the Snake River Basin. One key piece of the legislation that was passed pursuant to the Swan Falls Agreement gave the Department specific authority to subordinate hydropower rights in a permit or license to the rights of subsequent upstream depletionary users. The Department was also authorized to limit a permit or license involving hydropower to a term of years. The Department issued a final order that articulated the legal basis for including the "term of years" condition in the license to Idaho Power. The Company sought judicial review of the Department's final order, arguing that the Department did not have statutory authority to include a term condition in its license. The court indeed concluded that the Department did not have the authority to limit the license. The Department appealed to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the Department had the statutory authority to include a term condition in Idaho Power's license. The Court reversed the district court's decision.