Randy ShumwayWhen water is such a vital aspect of life and economic health, state leaders must take measures to protect against difficult conditions caused by water supply volatility. While Idaho has enough water to meet its needs in an average year, some years bring too much water and others don’t bring enough.

In 1977, Idaho experienced its worst single drought year on record, and a severe water shortage occurred. As a result, the state created a Drought Plan to manage planning and assistance. Later, in 1990, a Water Supply Committee was specifically organized to coordinate all drought-related and water-related activities in Idaho.

Water Supply Committee members come from key state, federal, and private agencies, and they serve several important functions. In order to create a comprehensive information source concerning present drought conditions, they compile all available data. They coordinate with various agencies to avoid conflict and duplication in these efforts, and they provide timely public information. Also, they encourage statewide water and energy conservation.

One of the major responsibilities of the Water Supply Committee is to prioritize water use. Their first priority reflects the critical nature of water as the source of life: supply adequate culinary water for public health, safety, and welfare. The next priority speaks to water’s essential role in the economy: minimize adverse drought effects on the state’s economy, environment, and social well-being. In order to supply water to Idaho’s residents and businesses regardless of a given year’s rainfall, the Water Supply Committee works to minimize the effects of drought and use water effectively.