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Water thievery rampant in tony Sun Valley area

Brief by Allen Best

Water – October 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Many well-to-do residents of the Wood River Valley are stealing in broad daylight, says an official with the Idaho state government, and he probably won’t do anything about it.

“Welcome to Sun Valley. This is typical America, the land of greed, where people just take, take, take,” says David W. Murphy, who is a deputy water master.(In Colorado, the job is usually called water commissioner.)

It is Murphy’s job to ensure that people are taking only as much water as they are legally entitled to from the four main ditches that serve the valley. But the reality is that more than 100 smaller canals snake onto private property and spill into manmade ponds. And in many cases, people are filling ponds or irrigating huge lawns with water they don’t own.

He took a reporter for the Idaho Mountain Express on his rounds, pointing out examples where people are flouting the law. “Eighty percent of people with ponds are violating their decrees,” he said.

The victims of the thievery, he said, are farmers located farther down valley, who have older and hence more senior rights.