Geothermal Water Use in Idaho
At a Glance
|Water Right Agency:||Idaho Department of Water Resources|
|Water Right Classification||Prior Appropriation|||
|Geothermal Right Classification:||(Sui generis and water)
Groundwater having a temperature greater than 212 degrees Fahrenheit at the well bottom is classified as a "geothermal resource" (IC 42-4002(c)). Water between 85 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees Fahrenheit at the well bottom is classified as a "low temperature geothermal resource." Idaho claims ownership of all geothermal resources underlying state and school trust lands. Idaho also claims the right to regulate development and use of all of the state's geothermal resources.The use of geothermal resources does not require a permit to appropriate water in Idaho unless it will decrease groundwater in any aquifer or other groundwater source or measurably decrease groundwater available from prior water rights. However, the use of low temperature geothermal resources does require a permit to appropriate water.
|Is a Water Right Required to Pump Geothermal Fluids?||The use of geothermal resources does not require a permit to appropriate water in Idaho unless it will decrease groundwater in any aquifer or other groundwater source or measurably decrease groundwater available from prior water rights. However, the use of low temperature geothermal resources does require a permit to appropriate water. Preliminary Site Considerations|
|Contacts/Agencies:||Idaho Department of Water Resources|
State Water Use Process
The state of Idaho defines geothermal resources as sui generis: “being neither a mineral resource nor a water resource . . . but found and hereby declared to be closely related to and possibly affecting and affected by water resources in many instances.” IS 47-1602. Ground water at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit or more is classified as a geothermal resource. See IS 42-4002(c). Idaho claims ownership of all geothermal resources underlying state and school trust lands. The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) regulates the development and use of all of the state's geothermal resources. The Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) regulates the drilling and construction of water wells and injection wells, including wells for geothermal resource production. IS 42-4000 et seq..
The use of geothermal resources does not require a permit to appropriate water in Idaho, unless the use will decrease groundwater in any aquifer or other groundwater source or measurably decrease groundwater available from prior water rights. However, the development of geothermal resources of a temperature less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit does require a permit to appropriate water from the IDWR in accordance with IC 42-1 to 42-2.
Where the geothermal facility requires a consumptive use of water or for ancillary water uses involved in geothermal development projects (cooling water, dust suppression, etc.), developers will likely need to obtain water by negotiating a transfer from an existing water right holder, or applying for a permit to appropriate water.
Transfer and/or Change; New Water Right
Developers may seek to transfer an already existing water right from a third party. Water transfers require notice to the IDWR and potentially the approval of an Application for Change in Water Right. Otherwise, developers can obtain a new water right by submitting an Application for Water Right to the IDWR. For new water rights or changed water rights, the IDWR will determine whether the new use affects other water users in the state. IC 42-1 to 42-2. The new water appropriation review process includes public comment and the IDWR may schedule a formal hearing in order to resolve any protests. The developer must complete works in order to appropriate the water and put it to beneficial use. The IDWR will issue a certificate of water right for the amount shown to be put to beneficial use.
Some areas in Idaho currently have moratoriums on the issuance of new water right permits. In addition, there are areas in Idaho which have been designated as critical ground water areas or ground water management areas in which any new ground water development is strictly controlled.
Local Water Use Process
Policies & Regulations
- An Introduction to Electric Power Transmission
- Article IX, Section 8 of Idaho's Constitution
- CHAT: Crucial Habitat Assessment Tools
- ETrans Federal Permitting Transmission Tracking System
- Edison Electric Institute State Generation and Transmission Siting Directory
- Environmental Recommendations for Transmission Planning
- Glossary of Transmission Grid Integration Terms
- I.C. 42-108 - Change in Point of Diversion, Place of Use, Period of Use, or Nature of Use
- I.C. 42-203A - Notice Upon Receipt of Application to Appropriate
- I.C. 42-222 - Appeals -- Change in Point of Diversion, Place of Use, Period of Use, or Nature of Use
- IC 42-104 - Appropriation (of Water) Must be for Beneficial Purpose
- Idaho - Access Management: Standards and Procedures for Highway Right-of-Way Encroachments
- Idaho - Idaho Dept. of Lands - Application for Easement
- Idaho Administrator's Memorandum on Transfer Processing Policies and Procedures
- Idaho Appellate Rules
- Idaho Application for Water Permit (DWR Form 202)
- Idaho Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Webpage
- Idaho DEQ Air Quality Permits Applicant and DEQ Responsibilities guidebook
- Idaho DEQ Environmental Assessment Information
- Idaho DEQ Nonpoint Source Pollution Webpage
- Idaho DEQ Pre-Application Meeting Agenda
- Idaho DEQ Storage Tanks Webpage
- Idaho Dredge and Fill Permits Webpage
- Idaho How to Obtain EPA ID Number Webpage
- Idaho IC 42-4002, Geothermal Resources Act Definitions
- Idaho IC Title 42, Irrigation and Drainage - Water Rights and Reclamation
- Idaho Instruction for Filing a Request for Extension of Time to Submit Proof of Beneficial Use
- Idaho Instructions for Filing Proof of Beneficial Use
- Idaho Instructions for Filing an Application for Permit to Appropriate
- Idaho NPDES Permits Webpage
- Idaho Notice of Intent to Abandon a Well (DWR Form 4007)
- Idaho On-Site Wastewater Systems Webpage
- Idaho Permit to Construct Application Webpage
- Idaho Report of Abandonment of a Well (DWR Form 4009)
- Idaho Request for Extension of Time to Submit Proof of Beneficial Use (DWR Form 204)
- Idaho Right-of-Way Encroachment Application and Permit - Other Encroachments
- Idaho Right-of-Way Encroachment Application and Permit for Utilities
- Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure
- Idaho Section 401 Certification Guidance
- Idaho Solid Waste Webpage
- Idaho Statement of Completion for Submitting Proof of Beneficial Use (DWR Form 217)
- Idaho TMDL Settlement Agreement
- Idaho Transferring a Water Right Webpage
- Idaho Underground Injection Control Program Webpage
- Idaho Water Right Applications, Forms, and Fees Webpage
- Inside Idaho: Interactive Numeric and Spatial Information Data Engine
- RCRA Notification of Regulated Waste Activity (EPA Form 8700-12)
- RCRA Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest (EPA Form 8700-22)
- State Electricity Profiles
- State Generation & Transmission Siting Directory
- … further results
"Water Use" is not in the list of possible values (Land Use, Land Access, Exploration, Well Field, General Construction, Power Plant, Environment, On Site Evaluation, Cultural Resources, Water Quality, Air Quality, Geological Resources, Aesthetic Resources, Waste & Hazardous Material, Water Access, Site Considerations, Transmission Siting & Interconnection, Plant Decommissioning, Biological Resources, Land Use Assessment) for this property.
- Idaho IC Title 42, Irrigation and Drainage - Water Rights and Reclamation (2014).
- Idaho IC 42-4002, Geothermal Resources Act Definitions (2014).