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Baker v. Ore-Ida Foods, Inc.

513 P.2d 627 (1973)

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Baker v. Ore-Ida Foods, Inc.

Idaho Supreme Court

513 P.2d 627 (1973)

Facts

Idaho farmers developed multiple wells to pump irrigation water from a common aquifer recharged primarily by precipitation. In the 1960s, the farmers “mined” the aquifer by drawing water faster than its natural recharge rate, dropping the water level 20 feet annually. Simon Baker and other farmers with senior water rights (plaintiffs) sued to stop Ore-Ida Foods, Inc., and others with junior water rights (defendants) from pumping water until the senior wells could resume normal production. The trial court calculated the natural recharge rate, found just four senior wells could pump that entire amount of water, enjoined pumping from all other wells, and assigned further administration of its decree to the Idaho Department of Water Administration. The junior rights holders appealed, arguing they had correlative rights to a mutual proportional share of water in the aquifer and that senior appropriators could enjoin junior appropriators from pumping water only if it exceeded reasonable pumping levels.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shepard, J.)

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