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Last Thursday, we introduced HJM 2, which focuses on our need to raise the Anderson Ranch Dam. Water is the lifeblood of Idaho’s agriculture, recreation and economy. Raising this dam is the first step in helping ensure that people in the Boise River Basin have one of the most important resources for their future — water.

Three dams help to protect and manage the water in the Boise River: Anderson Ranch Dam, Arrowrock Dam, and Lucky Peak Dam. Together they provide a total water storage capacity of more than one million acre-feet. All that water provides critical irrigation, flood protection, river maintenance, wildlife habitat, recreation, and commercial and municipal uses. All told, the dams contribute nearly $1.5 billion to Idaho’s economy. But they may eventually fall short in meeting Idaho’s growing water needs.

Last year, 35,000 people moved into Idaho. The Idaho Water Resource Board says the Treasure Valley alone could grow by almost one million people by the year 2065. We need to protect as much of our water as possible to ensure that we can meet our current and future demands.

A 2006 study from the Bureau of Reclamation shows that raising Anderson Ranch Dam is the most cost-effective first step to ensuring that Idaho’s water can serve future generations. Adding just six feet would provide another 29,000 acre-feet of water storage space. The Bureau has already begun a study of the feasibility and environmental impacts of the project. This study should be completed by June of next year.

Again, this is just the first step in securing Idaho’s water for the future. As the state grows, so will our water needs. We owe our continuous support to the construction of new water infrastructure, and we hope the Idaho Water Resource Board, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and Idaho’s water users continue to do the same. That could mean not only raising Arrowrock, but also considering increased capacity for Lucky Peak, Minidoka, and Island Park dams, too. But it all starts with raising Anderson Ranch Dam.

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Rep. Scott Bedke, Dist 27, is Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives. Rep. Megan C. Blanksma, Dist 23, is Majority Caucus Chairman of the Idaho House of Representatives.

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