Martiny v. Wells

419 P.2d 470 (1966)

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Martiny v. Wells

Idaho Supreme Court
419 P.2d 470 (1966)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

Gilman and Grace Martiny (plaintiffs) and Arthur Wells (defendant) had adjudicated water rights for irrigation from Spring Creek, which ran parallel to the base of a bluff across a marshy area with natural swales sloping toward the creek. Originally groundwater and springs on both sides flowed through the swales and fed the creek. The Martinys had a senior right and diverted water directly from the creek. Wells had a junior right to 100 inches in a ditch not directly connected to the creek. The ditch ran parallel to the creek a short distance uphill and drew water from springs upstream of the Martinys’ diversion point. Dikes or levees built across the swales trapped water in Wells’s ditch. Typically water shortages occurred in early May, before runoff flowed from the mountains. During four particularly dry years, not enough water ran to fill the Martinys’ right although Wells had water in his ditch. The Martinys sued for an injunction asserting the water in Wells’s ditch was tributary to Spring Creek. The Martinys’ witnesses said the ditch trapped a substantial amount of water from the upstream springs, while Wells’s witnesses said the amount was minimal, but the watermaster had twice cut a dike to release water. Wells claimed the water instead percolated from land above the bluff, where users with more junior rights used it for irrigation during other parts of the year. Wells also claimed the ditch collected water that would otherwise seep into the ground or evaporate. The trial court found Wells’s ditch water not tributary to the creek and best used to irrigate his land and enjoined the Martinys from interfering with his water. The Martinys appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Taylor, J.)

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