The only priority for 2022 is to establish communications with all those paying an assessment to our water district in order to get them to see that their water rights/licenses are recorded correctly.
Please contact the watermaster if you aren't sure whether your right/license is correct.
Lastly, please tell your neighbors at the lake to do the same. Thank you!
YOU WILL NOT LOSE YOUR WATER RIGHT/LICENSE IN THIS PROCESS. There is a specific legal process for removal of water rights, and the water district has no reason, and no interest, in doing so.
The watermaster must know whether or not water will be pumped from Twin Lakes on your property this year. We're also looking to get a good estimate of the amount of water used, so decisions can be made on how water is administered in years to come.
This process will also enhance proper right/license documentation going into the future.
A right/license was filed for the use of surface water on your property in the last 130+ years. The location is within the boundaries of Water District 95-C as determined when the district was formed in 1989. A budget is proposed at the annual meeting each spring (this year on May 19), and assessments are normally divided evenly amongst the roughly 380 right/license holders in this district.
Since 2017, the watermaster has been directed to measure inflows and outflows weekly. This has caused the historically-low assessments to become inadequate. This year a proposal will be made to increase the annual assessment to a flat $25.
Although assessments are not considered a tax, billing is processed through the Kootenai County Assessor's office. The process is virtually free, and saves considerable funds that would otherwise be spent on billing/collecting assessments.
According to the Idaho Department of Water Resources:
"A water district is an organized government entity created and supervised by IDWR to distribute water consistent with water rights on record with IDWR. Water districts are the only water delivery entity specifically authorized to administer the delivery of Idaho water from a public water source or water system. Distribution of water within a water district is accomplished by the elected and appointed watermaster. "
In 2021, the watermaster posted signs, spoke at the TLIA annual meeting, and visited sites around the lake, but found many obstacles to getting an accurate inventory. The goal of determining how much water is being pumped from Twin Lakes remains the same. There seems to be no easy way to contact all 380+ entities paying annual assessments to the water district.
The watermaster hoped the mailed notices would be a good start towards fulfilling the goal of reaching all those that should be administered. With help of the community, there is hope we can also reach those who are either not paying, or are not aware they need a right/license.
Other districts use control devices, measuring devices, canals with gates, and other means to give right holders their share of the surface water when it is their turn, and if there is any available. Minimum fees are normally greater than $50 per year, and many pay based on the volume used.
Our district is quite unique in this state. Our only control device is the gate at the spillway. There are no measuring or control devices, and everyone pays the same, small, annual fee. It is also clear we have many who never have exercised their rights, and never intend to do so. This is unheard of in most any other district.
There is no plan to install water-measuring devices in our district. They are costly to install, maintain, and would require meter-readers and billing costs. These are normally used where users are sharing in the costs of the delivery infrastructure, such as canals, ditches, gates, and reservoirs.
There may be a point someday where water may need to be regulated around the lake, but it will not necessarily require a lock-out device. It may be sufficient to have someone visit each user annually to verify and discuss volume used.
The primary goal at this point is to find out who is using water, and estimate how much they are using. This will give an indication of the impact pumping has on the system, and how we should manage the water in the future.
Paying the water district to administer a water right/license when there is no intention to ever use water is certainly not the intent of a water right/license. However, you are not required to use water every year in order to maintain your right/license. And again, there is a legal process involved with removal of a right/license.
If you no longer wish to maintain a water right/license in this district, please let the watermaster know when responding to the notice. There is a process for abandoning a water right/license.
If you do intend to keep your water right even if you never intend to use it, we will certainly appreciate your annual contribution to maintain the district.
It is clear now that many of the 380+ right/license holders on the current assessment list have never noticed the assessment on their Kootenai County Property tax statement. The assessment has been relatively small since the formation of the district, often only $10-$15 per year. The budget hearing notice is probably overlooked, as well.
Everyone receives notice in some way at least twice by mail each year. We're hoping to reach out to everyone this year to make sure they know they are paying us.
Maintenance and documentation of a water right/license is the responsibility of the user/property owner. The watermaster does not have the right/ability to correct information in them. This includes contact information.
Given that there are over 400 water rights/licenses in the district, creating/maintaining two-way communications has been considered overwhelming for the water district. There is no easy way to contact everyone. For many reasons, many do not respond to road signs, mail, door hangers left on-site, meetings, word-of-mouth, websites, social media, etc.
A plan is currently underway to begin correcting all the files in our district with the state. Please be patient, as this will take considerable time and resources on their part. The watermaster will provide more information soon.
Over the years, the watermaster was paid a very small amount to occasionally measure stream flows and operate the gate at the spillway according to the rules set forth in the 1989 decree. There are no district facilities to maintain, no vehicles, and no major monthly expenses. The annual meeting was often held in a public facility at little, to no, cost.
In early 2017, specific instructions were laid out for the watermaster to measure inflows and outflows to the lake on a weekly basis. The district purchased a modern flow-measuring device for roughly $10,000. This allowed for more accurate, reliable, and transparent measurements to be taken for both the incoming flows on Fish Creek, and the outgoing flows at the spillway. This resulted in higher salaries being paid, as well. The result was a well-managed lake. However, this left the historically-small annual assessments inadequate.
The district also paid for a camera system at the dam, and provides internet service for the system in order to bring transparency to the operation of the spillway. Live views of the gate position and lake levels are available to board members on both the Water and Flood Control Districts.
Maintenance of Rathdrum Creek was also included in the budget over the years, but we are working with Water Resources to find long term solutions to water losses downstream.
The district has always been careful with spending, and has saved a considerable amount of funding in a state savings pool for future expenses.
The treasurer's report is given at the annual meeting each year, with this year's annual meeting scheduled for May 19.
A water right/license is required in order to vote in water district elections and budget proceedings.
The general public is welcome to attend the annual meeting, and can always bring concerns to the watermaster.
The Flood Control District regulates the water level for their storage right all year long. They have the right, and responsibility, to fill the lake to the 10.4-foot level each spring. This involves the risk of coming up short, especially during times of drought. Since the bulk of the runoff occurred gradually over the last couple months, they felt it was prudent to maintain the 10.4-foot level earlier than usual this year.
With that said, the lake level has been maintained within an inch of the 10.4-foot level for over a month as of May 1, 2022. The level is monitored and adjusted daily to insure levels do not deviate significantly.
The watermaster is only tasked with distributing the water that flows through the drainage. Please contact Flood Control District #17 in the Links section of this website for more information, or to contact the Flood Control District board.