Citing odor concerns and the local public interest, the Idaho Department of Water Resources has denied the water rights transfer requested for a proposed 6,600-cow dairy in Gooding County.

Citing odor concerns and the local public interest, the Idaho Department of Water Resources has denied the water rights transfer requested for a proposed 6,600 cow dairy about one mile from the Snake River Canyon in Gooding County.

Dairy producer Kevin Boer was quite surprised at the ruling, as this was the first negative ruling received about the proposed dairy. Boer and his father Adrian already operate three dairies in Gooding County.

The water rights transfer request already had been challenged in court. Jerome County resident Lee Halper and Bill Chisholm, a current candidate for the state senate, first challenged the transfer in October 2000. Their primary argument was that the dairy would not be in the “local public interest.” Whenever water rights are transferred in the state of Idaho one of the five criteria that must be met is if it is in the “local public interest.”

The court challenges failed and the matter was referred back to the Idaho Department of Water Resources.
At the water resources hearing homeowners who live near the Clear Lakes Country Club, which is about 2.5 miles due southwest and downhill of the proposed dairy, united against the dairy. Homeowners testified that odors from dairies already located in the area decrease their quality of life. The homeowners also cited reduced real estate values and slow sales as part of the affect from existing dairies.

According to hearing documents, about 97,000 dairy animals reside in Gooding County. Of those, about 72,000 are located within a 5-mile radius north of the proposed dairy site.

While the proposal for the 6,600-cow K & W dairy was denied, the water resources board approved the expansion of Box Canyon Dairy No. 3 from 350 cows to 900 cows. Both are located along the Snake River.

Opponents say the actions of the water resources board are inconsistent. Chisholm told The Times-News that “he is willing to go to the Idaho Supreme Court if necessary.”

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