Water Law

Idaho Water Law is technical and complex, and Moffatt Thomas Water Law Attorneys have several decades of experience of providing practical advice to protect or obtain water rights, whether in the administrative arena or the courtroom.

Practice Profile

Rooted in the Idaho Constitution and governed primarily by Titles 42 and 43, Idaho Code, the practice of water law is essential to a variety of industries in the state of Idaho.  Like most western states, the foundation of Idaho water law is the prior appropriation doctrine:  “first in time is first in right.”  However, Idaho law also mandates the maximization of use and development of the state’s water resources.  How that balance is achieved is a delicate, deliberate, technical, and ever evolving process, particularly in the conjunctive management of Idaho’s interconnected surface and ground water supplies.  Idaho water law is a specialty, and Moffatt Thomas water law attorneys are experts who practice in this complex body of law on a daily basis in a team-oriented atmosphere.

Moffatt Thomas is an active member in the Idaho Water Users Association and the firm’s water law attorneys are active in Idaho water policy matters in both the administrative and legislative arenas.

The Firm handles all aspects of water law representation, from transactional work to litigation.

No matter the setting, reliable water supplies drive Idaho’s industries.  From agriculture, to industry, to recreation, and to your own backyard; you depend on it, we protect it.

Experience

  • Water right review, due diligence, and transactional conveyance
  • Water right permitting and transfers
  • Prosecution of claims and objections in Idaho’s general stream adjudications
  • Enforcement and defense of water rights administration and delivery claims
  • Water distribution and delivery entity representation (i.e., irrigation districts, ditch companies, lateral water users associations, and individual water users/facility owners)
  • Permitting, litigation, and IDEQ/EPA enforcement defense under the federal Clean Water Act
  • Representation of client interests before the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers
  • Permitting of small scale hydroelectric projects

News

Norman M Semanko

National Water Resources Association Names Norman M. Semanko, Moffatt Thomas Water Law Attorney, Vice Chair of NWRA Litigation Review Committee

Norman M. Semanko, Moffatt Thomas Partner and Leader of the firm’s Water/Environment/Natural Resources Law practice group, has been named by the National Water Resources Association to serve as Vice Chair of the Association's Litigation Review Committee.

Read More
Norman M Semanko

Moffatt Thomas attorney, Norm Semanko, to provide update on Federal lands and Idaho water issues at North West Property Owners Alliance Dinner & Auction

Norman M. Semanko, Moffatt Thomas water law attorney, will be the guest speaker at the second annual North West Property Owners Alliance dinner and auction in Coeur d'Alene. March 14, 2015. He will update the group on the Coeur d'Alene Spokane River Basin Adjudication Process.

Read More
Matthew J McGee

Matthew McGee, Moffatt Thomas, to Present at the Idaho Water Users Association’s Summer Water Law & Resource Issues Seminar

Moffatt Thomas attorney, Matthew J. McGee, will present "Wood River Basin Water Delivery Calls" at the Summer Water Law and Resource Seminar hosted by the Idaho Water Users Association. The College of Water Resources event will take place from June 13-14, 2016, at the Sun Valley Resort.

Read More

Leadership Idaho Agriculture: 2016 The Legal Side of Agriculture

The Legal Side of Agriculture. Moffatt Thomas will once again share current legal information with Leadership Idaho Agriculture Class 36 and Alumni at a half-day session on February 17, 2016.

Read More

Idaho Water Users Association, Inc. Honors Individuals at 2015 Annual Convention

Nine individuals were honored on January 21, 2015 by Idaho's largest water user group, the Idaho Water Users Association, Inc., at its 78th Annual Convention in Boise. Moffatt Thomas attorney, Norm Semanko, is Executive Director and General Counsel to Idaho Water Users Association.

Read More

Leadership Idaho Agriculture 2015: The Legal Side of Agriculture

Moffatt Thomas attorneys Christine E. Nicholas, Clay Gill, Ed Cather and Norm Semanko will present a half-day session for the 35th class of Leadership Idaho Agriculture on "The Legal Side of Agriculture."

Read More

Idaho Law Firm, Moffatt Thomas, Ranked Among the Nation’s 2016 “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News

Moffatt Thomas has been named one of the nation’s “Best Law Firms” for 2016 from the publishers of U.S. News […]

Read More

MOFFATT THOMAS ATTORNEYS NAMED BY BEST LAWYERS® 2016

Moffatt Thomas attorneys were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America© 2016.

Read More

Super Lawyers Selects 12 Moffatt Thomas Attorneys for 2016

Twelve Moffatt Thomas attorneys were recently selected by 2016 Super Lawyers for their accomplishments in the fields of business/corporate law, business litigation, banking, employment law, environmental law and litigation, insurance defense, and medical and professional malpractice defense.

Read More
Patricia M Olsson

Patricia M. Olsson, Moffatt Thomas Attorney, Idaho Business Review 2016 Women of the Year Honoree

Moffatt Thomas attorney, Patricia M. Olsson, honored as one of 50 women award recipients at the February 25th IBR Women of the Year Gala.

Read More
Norman M Semanko

“New administration could mean end of WOTUS rule,” Norman M. Semanko in CapitalPress, 2016

Norman M. Semanko, Moffatt Thomas Water/Natural Resources and Environmental Law Practice Group leader and former Executive Director of the Idaho Water Users Association, addressed the Treasure Valley Irrigation Conference, stating that the Trump administration could boost agricultural water users by tossing out the newly rewritten Waters of the U.S. Rule.

Read More
Norman M Semanko

Norman M. Semanko, Moffatt Thomas, Updates North West Property Owners Alliance on Idaho Water Adjudication

Norman M. Semanko, leader of the Moffatt Thomas Water/Environment/Natural Resources practice group, was a guest speaker at the fourth annual North West Property Owners Alliance dinner and action in Coeur d'Alene on March 11, 2017. Mr. Semanko provided the Alliance with an update on Idaho Water Adjudication.

Read More
Norman M Semanko

Moffatt Thomas Water Law Expert, Norm Semanko, Speaks to North Idaho Water Users

Federal Lands and Idaho Water Issues topic of public meetings hosted by North Idaho Water Rights Alliance and Moffatt Thomas water law attorney, Norm Semanko.

Read More
Norman M Semanko

Norman M. Semako argues for North Idaho Water Rights Association

Judge Eric J. Wildman of the Coeur d’Alene-Spokane River Basin Adjudication court denied a federal motion to delay water right decrees to private property owners on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation. The decision was issued following a hearing Jan. 21.

Read More
Jetta H Mathews

Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital Ltd, a presentation to International Law Section of the Idaho State Bar by Moffatt Thomas attorney, Jetta H. Mathews

Moffatt Thomas attorney, Jetta H. Mathews, discussed the complexities of the Argentine debt dispute during a presentation at the International Law Section of the Idaho State Bar in March, 2015.

Read More

Resources

History of Federal Water Quality Controls

History of Federal Water Quality Controls, a 2005 presentation by Scott L. Campbell for a Moffatt Thomas Water Law Breakfast […]

Read More

Irrigation Water Drainage Development in the Treasure Valley, Scott L. Campbell

On July 30, 1887, the Caldwell Tribune described that area of Idaho as "a resort for jack rabbits and badgers." The irrigation projects brought Boise River water to the land. In early 1886, two major canals began to deliver water to the area and allow development of irrigated farms and ranches.

Read More
Jetta H Mathews

Grazing Improvement Act, by Jetta H. Mathews

On December 19, 2014, the President signed into law changes to the permit system for grazing on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. The changes are part of the “Grazing Improvement Act” legislation which has been sponsored in the House by Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho, and in the Senate by Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, in the past few years.

Read More

Clean Water Rule

Federal regulators issued a much-anticipated proposed rule on the Clean Water Act during the spring of 2014, just as U.S. farmers were getting ready for another irrigation season. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released the 371-page document on March 25, 2014. The Proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. –May 23, 2014

Read More

Water Law Breakfast Briefing

Water Rights in Real Property Transactions: Obtaining a Water Right, by Matthew J. McGee Download PDF Water Right Considerations in […]

Read More

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or “PURE WATER, PURE FOOD, PURE DISASTER” presented by Scott L. Campbell

"PURE WATER, PURE FOOD, PURE DISASTER" How to Destroy the World’s Safest, Cheapest, Most Efficient Food Production Industry
FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Read More