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With the Teton Basin Storage Assessment study scheduled to begin in spring 2010, Trout Unlimited is working with the Bureau of Reclamation and state of Idaho to ensure that this study effectively addresses the water needs of Eastern Idaho while protecting Idaho's unique natural resources. Asked by BOR officials what kind of Teton study it could support, TU recently offered these recommendations:
- Invite all stakeholders and provide broad public participation and transparency from the outset—this will ensure not only that the final recommendations are the best options available but also that they gain the widest possible public support.
- Clearly identify the water problems for which the study will propose solutions. Don't presuppose any particular solution from the outset, such as rebuilding Teton Dam. Only when we know what water supply problems we are trying to solve—for the environment, for irrigators, for municipalities and other industries—can we then thoughtfully appraise possible solutions.
- Study thoroughly the full range of non-structural solutions to water supply problems—for instance, improving efficiency through water markets and reducing demand.
- Invest in the most cost-effective and least environmentally damaging water supply options first—such as ground water recharge and off-stream storage. Rebuilding Teton Dam, by contrast, would be enormously expensive and environmentally destructive.
- Include benefits to stream flows, fish and wildlife as a part of the study's scope and purpose. The study should reflect the fact that the Teton River Canyon is a unique and valuable fishery and wildlife area, deserving of protection. As part of this goal, we'd like the BOR to coordinate with other state and federal assessment processes, notably BLM's study of Teton River Canyon as a candidate for Wild and Scenic River status.