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SNAKE RIVER COMPACT, 1949
Signatory States: Idaho and Wyoming
Rivers Controlled: The Snake River from its headwaters to the Wyoming-Idaho boundary and all'tributaries flowing into it within the boundaries of Wyoming. The Salt River and all its tributaries.
Wyo. Stat. 41-509 (1957) [Act of Feb. 20,
1950, Wyo. Sess. Laws p.3)
Idaho Code 42-3401 (Supp. 1969) [Act of
Feb. 11, 1950, Idaho Sess. Laws p.4]
The Compact recognizes, without restrictions, all existing rights in Wyoming as of the date of the Compact. It permits Wyoming unlimited use for domestic and stock uses provided that stock water reservoirs shall not exceed 20 acre-feet in capacity. It permits Wyoming to divert (not deplete) for new developments, either for supplemental or original supply, 4% of the Wyoming-Idaho State line flow of the Snake River.
Use of the water is limited to diversions within the Snake River drainage basin unless both states agree otherwise.
The Compact gives preference to domestic, stock and irrigation uses of the water over storage for the generation of power.
SNAKE RIVER COMPACT, 1949
The States of Idaho and Wyoming, parties signatory to this compact, have resolved to conclude a compact as authorized by the Act of June 3, 1948 (62 Stat. 294), and after negotiations participated in by the following named State commissioners:
- Mark R. Kulp, Boise
- N. V. Sharp, Filer
- Charles H. Welteroth, Jerome
- Roy Marquess, Paul
- Ival V. Goslin, Aberdeen
- R. Willis Walker, Rexburg
- Alex O. Coleman, St. Anthony
- Leonard E. Graham, Rigby
- Charles E. Anderson, Idaho Falls
- A. K. Van Orden, Blackfoot
- L. C. Bishop, Cheyenne
- E. B. Hitchcock, Rock Springs
- J. G. Imeson, Jackson
- David P. Miller, Rock Springs
- Carl Robinson, Afton
- Ciril D. Cranney, Afton
- Clifford P. Hansen, Jackson
- Clifford S. Wilson, Driggs, Idaho
- Lloyd Van Deburg, Jackson
and by R. J. Newell, representative of the United States of America, have agreed upon the following articles, to-wit:
A. The major purposes of this compact are to provide for the most efficient use of the waters of the Snake River for multiple purposes; to provide for equitable division of such.waters; to remove causes of present and future controversies; to promote interstate comity; to recognize that the most efficient utilization of such waters is required for the development of the drainage area of the Snake River and its tributaries in Wyoming and Idaho; and to promote joint action by the States and the United States in the development and use of such waters and the control of floods.
B. Either State using, claiming or in any manner asserting any right to the use of the waters of the Snake River under the authority of either State shall be subject to the terms of this compact.
As used in this compact:
A. The term "Snake River" as distinguished from terms such as "Snake River and its tributaries" shall mean the Snake River from its headwaters to the Wyoming-Idaho boundary and all tributaries flowing into it within the boundaries of Wyoming, and the Salt River and all its tributaries.
B. The terms "Idaho" and "Wyoming" shall mean, respectively, the State
of Idaho and the State of Wyoming, and except as otherwise expressly provided,
either of those terms or the term "State" or "States" used in relation to any right or
obligation created or recognized by this compact shall include any person or entity
of any nature whatsoever, including the United States.
C. The term "domestic use" shall mean the use of water by an individual or
by a family unit or household for drinking, cooking, laundering, sanitation and other
personal comforts and necessities; and for the irrigation of a family garden or orchard
not exceeding one-half acre in area.
D. The term "stock water use" shall mean the use of water for livestock and poultry.
E. The term "established Wyoming rights" shall mean Snake River water rights that have been validly established of record in Wyoming prior to July 1, 1949, for use in Wyoming.
A. The waters of the Snake River, exclusive of established Wyoming rights and other uses coming within the provisions of C of this Article III, are hereby allocated to each State for storage or direct diversion as follows:
To Idaho................................................................. 96 percent
To Wyoming................................................................ 4 percent
subject to the following stipulations and conditions as to the four per cent allocated to Wyoming:
1. One-half may be used in Wyoming by direct diversion or by storage and subsequent diversion without provision being made for replacement storage space.
2. The other one-half may be diverted for direct use or stored for later diversion and use on the condition that there shall have been provided for reimbursement of Idaho users replacement storage space to the extent of one-third of the maximum annual diversion in acre-feet but not in excess, however, of
one-third of half the total hereby allocated to Wyoming. Until this total replacement storage space has been made available, provision for meeting its proportionate part of this total shall be a prerequisite to the right to use water in Wyoming for any irrigation project authorized after June 30, 1949, for construction by any Federal agency.
B. The amount of water subject to allocation as provided in A of this Article III shall be determined on an annual water-year basis measured from October 1 of any year through September 30 of the succeeding year. The quantity of water to which the percentage factors in A of this Article III shall be applied through a given date in any water year shall be, in acre-feet, equal to the algebraic sum of:
1. The quantity of water, in acre-feet, that has passed the Wyoming state line in the Snake River to the given date, determined on the basis of gaging stations to be established at such points as are agreed on under the provisions of B of Article VI.
2 . The change during that water year to the given date in quantity of water, in acre-feet, in any existing or future reservoirs in Wyoming which water is for use in Idaho.
3. The quantity of water, in acre-feet, stored in that water year and in storage on the given date for later diversion and use in Wyoming, under rights having a priority later than June 30, 1949.
4. One-third of the quantity of water, in acre-feet, excluding any storage water held over from prior years, diverted, under rights having a priority later than June 30, 1949, in that water year to the given date:
(a) from the Snake River for use that year on lands in Wyoming, and
(b) from tributaries of the Salt River for use that year on lands in Idaho.
C. There are hereby excluded from the allocations made by this compact:
1. Existing and future domestic and stock-water uses of water; provided, that the capacity of any reservoir for stockwater shall not exceed 20 acre-feet.;
2. Established Wyoming rights; and
3. All water rights for use in Idaho or any tributary of the Salt River heading in Idaho which were validly established under the Laws of Idaho prior to July 1, 1949; and all such uses and rights are hereby recognized.
No water of the Snake River shall be diverted in Wyoming for use outside the drainage area of the Snake River except with the approval of Idaho; and no water of any tributary of the Salt River heading in Idaho shall be diverted in Idaho for use outside the drainage area of said tributary except with the approval of Wyoming.
Subject to the provisions of this compact, waters of the Snake River may be impounded and used for the generation of electrical power, but such impounding and use shall be subservient to the use of such waters for domestic, stock and irrigation purposes, and shall not interfere with or prevent their use for such preferred purposes. Water impounded or diverted in Wyoming exclusively for the generation of electrical power shall not be charged to the allocation set forth in Article III of this compact.
A. It shall be the duty of the two States to administer this compact through the official in each State who is now or may hereafter be charged with the administration of the public water supplies, and to collect and correlate through such officials the data necessary for the proper administration of the provisions of this compact. Such officials may, by unanimous action, adopt rules and regulations consistent with the provisions of this compact.
B. The States shall in conjunction with other responsible agencies cause to be established, maintained and operated such suitable water gaging stations as they find necessary to administer this compact. The United States Geological Survey, or whatever Federal agency may succeed to the functions and duties of that agency, so far as this compact is concerned, shall collaborate with officials of the States charged with the administration of this compact in the execution of the duty of such officials in the collection, correlation and publication of information necessary for its proper administration.
C. In the case of failure of the administrative officials of the two States to agree on any matter necessary to the administration of this compact, the Director of the United States Geological Survey, or whatever official succeeds to his duties, shall be asked to appoint a Federal representative to participate as to the matters in disagreement, and points of disagreement shall be decided by a majority vote.
A. Either State shall have the right to file applications for and receive permits to construct or participate in the construction and use of any dam, storage reservoir or diversion works in the other State for the purpose of conserving and regulating its allocated water and to perfect rights thereto. Either State exercising this right shall comply with the laws of the other State except as to any general requirement for legislative approval that may be applicable to the granting of rights by one State for the diversion or storage of water for use outside of that State.
B. Each claim or right hereafter initiated for storage or diversion of water in one State for use in the other State shall be filed in the,office of the proper official of the State in which the water is to be stored or diverted, and a duplicate copy of the application, including a map showing the character and location of the proposed facilities and the lands to be irrigated, shall be filed in the office of the proper official of the State in which the water is to be used. If a portion or all the lands proposed to be reclaimed are located in a State other than the one in which the water is to be stored or diverted, then, before approval, said application shall be checked against the records of the office of the State in which the water is to be used, and a notation shall be placed thereon by the officer in charge of such records as to whether or not he approves the application. All endorsements shall be placed on both the original and duplicate copies of all such applications and maps filed to the end that the records in both States may be complete and identical.
A. Neither State shall deny the right of the United States, and, subject to the conditions hereinafter contained, neither State shall deny the right of the other State to acquire rights to the use of water, or to construct or participate in the construction and use of diversion works and storage reservoirs with appurtenant works, canals and conduits in one State for the purpose of diverting, conveying, storing or regulating water in one State for use in the other State, when such use is within the allocation to such State made by this compact.
B. Either State shall have the right to acquire such property rights as are necessary to the use of water in conformity with this compact in the other State by donation, purchase or through the exercise of the power of eminent domain. Either State, upon the written request of the Governor of the other State, for the benefit of whose water users property is to be acquired in the State to which such written request is made, shall proceed expeditiously to acquire the desired property either by purchase at a price satisfactory to the requesting State, or, if such purchase cannot be made, then through the exercise of its power of eminent domain and shall convey such property to the requesting State or such entity as may be designated by the requesting State; provided, that all costs of acquistion and expense of every kind and nature whatsoever incurred in obtaining the requested property shall be paid by the requesting State at the time and in the manner prescribed by the State requested to acquire the property.
C. Should any facility be constructed in either State by and for the benefit of the other State, as above provided, the construction, repair, replacement, maintenance and operation of such facility shall be subject to the laws of the State in which the facility is located, except that, in the case of a reservoir constructed in either State for the benefit of the other State, the proper officials of the State in which the facility is located shall permit the storage and release of any water to which the other State is entitled under this compact.
D. Either State having property rights in the other State acquired as provided in B of this Article VIII shall pay to the political subdivisions of the State in which such property rights are located, each and every year during which such rights are held, a sum of money equivalent to the average annual amount of taxes assessed against those rights during the ten years preceding the acquisition of such rights in reimbursement for the loss of taxes to said political subdivision of the State, except that this provision shall not be applicable to interests in property rights the legal title to which is in the United States. Payments so made to a political subdivision shall be in lieu of any and all taxes by that subdivision on the property rights for which the payments are made.
The provisions of this compact shall not apply to or interfere with the right or power of either State to regulate within its boundaries the appropriation, use and control of waters allocated to such State by this compact.
The failure of either State to use the waters, or any part thereof, the use of which is
allocated to it under the terms of this compact, shall not constitute a relinquishment of the
right to such use to the other State, nor shall it constitute a forfeiture or abandonment of the right to such use.
In case any reservoir is constructed in one State where the water is to be used principally in the other State, sufficient water not to exceed five cubic feet per second shall be released all times, if necessary for stock-water use and conservation of fish and wildlife.
The provisions of this compact shall remain in full force and effect unless amended or terminated by action of the legislatures of both States and consented to and approved by the Congress of the United States in the same manner as this compact is required to be ratified and approved to become effective; provided, that in the event of such amendment or termination all rights theretofore established hereunder or recognized hereby shall continue to be recognized as valid by both States notwithstanding such amendment or termination.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or prevent either State from instituting or maintaining any action or proceeding, legal or equitable, for the protection of any right under this compact or the enforcement of any of its provisions.
A. Nothing in this compact shall be deemed:
1. To affect adversely any rights to the use of waters of the Snake River, including its tributaries entering downstream from the Wyoming-Idaho state line, owned by or for Indians, Indian tribes and their reservations. The water required to satisfy these
rights shall be charged against the allocation made to the State in which the Indians are located.
2. To impair or affect any rights or powers of the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, in and to the use of the waters of the Snake River nor its capacity to acquire rights in and to the use of said waters.
3. To apply to any waters within the Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park.
4. To subject any property of the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities to taxation by either State or subdivisions thereof, nor to create an obligation on the part of the United States, its agents or instrumentalities, by reason of the acquisition, construction or operation of any property or works of whatsoever kind, to make any payments to any State or political subdivisions thereof, State agency, municipality or entity whatsoever in reimbursement for the loss of taxes.
5. To subject any works of the United States used in connection with the control or use of waters which are the subject of this compact to the laws of any State to an extent other than the extent to which these laws would apply without regard to this compact.
B. Notwithstanding the provisions of A of this Article, any beneficial uses hereafter made by the United States, or those acting by or under its authority, within either State, of the waters allocated by this compact shall be within the allocations hereinabove made for use in that State and shall be taken into account in determining the extent.
This compact shall become operative when approved by legislative enactment by each of the States, and when consented to by the Congress of the United States.
Wyoming hereby relinquishes the right to the allocation of stored water in Grassy Lake Reservoir, as set forth in Wyoming's reservoir permit No. 4631 Res. and evidenced by certificate No. R-1, page 318, and all claims predicated thereon.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Commissioners have signed this compact in quadruplicate, one of which shall be filed in the archives of the Department of State of the United States of America and shall be deemed the authoritative original, and of which a duly certified copy shall be forwarded to the Governor of each of the States.
Done at the City of Cheyenne, in the State of Wyoming, this 10th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Forty-Nine.
Commissioners for Idaho Commissioners for Wyoming
MARK R. KULP L. C. BISHOP
N. V. SHARP E. B. HITCHCOCK
CHARLES H. WELTEROTH J. C. IMESON
ROY MARQUESS DAVID P. MILLER
IVAL V. GOSLIN CARL ROBINSON
R. WILLIS WALKER CIRIL D. CRANNEY
ALEX O. COLEMAN CLIFFORD P. HANSEN
LEONARD E. GRAHAM CLIFFORD S. WILSON
CHARLES E. ANDERSON LLOYD VAN DEBURG
A. K. VAN ORDEN
I have participated in the negotiations of this compact and intend to report favorably thereon to the Congress of the United States.
R. J. NEWELL
Representative of the United States of America
Congressional consent to negotiations.---By the Act of June 3, 1948 (62 Stat. 294), the Congress gave its consent to the negotiation of a Snake River compact by the States of Idaho and Wyoming. The consent was given "upon condition that one suitable person, who shall be appointed by the President of the United States, shall participate in said negotiations as the representative of the United States and shall make report to Congress of the proceedings and of any compact entered into." The Act also provided than any compact agreed upon shall not be effective until ratified by the legislatures of the States and "approved" by the Congress and that "nothing in this Act shall apply to any waters within the Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park or shall establish any right or onterest in or to any lands within the boundaries thereof or in subsequent additions thereto."
Congressional consent to compact.---The "consent and approval" of the Congress was given the Snake River Compact by the Act of March 21, 1950 (64 Stat. 29), from which the text of the compact above set out is taken. Section 2 of this Act "expressly reserved" the "right to alter, amend, or repeal this Act."
For legislative history, see S. 3159, 81st Congress; House Report 1743 (Committee on Public Lands), 81st Congress; 96 Cong. Rec. 2573-2575, 3063-3065 (1950); P.L. 464, 81st Congress.
Presidential and Budget Bureau comments on compact.---In connection with the negotiations of the Yellowstone River compact, the President expressed his views on certain provisions of the Snake River compact in a letter to the Federal representative dated May 3, 1950, to which was attached a memorandum from the Director of the Bureau of the Budget dated April 21, 1950. The two documents read as follows:
"May 3, 1950
"MY DEAR MR. NEWELL: The purpose of this letter is to call your attention to a problem of
growing concern and, in the solution of which, the Federal Representatives assigned to interstate
water compact commissions are in a position to perform a valuable public service. I refer to
the somewhat recent tendency to incorporate in interstate water compacts questionable or con-
flicting provisions imposing restrictions on use of waters by the United States, such as appear
in the Snake River Compact enactment which I approved on March 21, 1950 (Public Law 464, 81st
Congress, 2nd Session).
"In this particular case, the possibility of misinterpretation of certain apparently con-
flicting provisions was not considered to be serious enough to warrant withholding approval of
the enrolled enactment of the Congress (S. 3159). Such provisions however, if followed as prece-
dent for general application, may jeopardize the prospect of consent and approval of compacts
by the Federal Government because of the far reaching effects such provisions might have upon
the interests of the United States. This matter is further discussed in a memorandum to me from
the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, a copy of which is enclosed for your information and
"I fully realize how difficult it is to resolve the numerous complex jurisdictional and
other problems encountered in reaching agreement upon the allocation of waters of an interstate
stream. At the same time, I am impressed with the importance of insuring that compact provisions
reflect as clearly as possible a recognition of the respective responsibilities and prerogatives
of the United States and the affected States. I can assure you that any efforts made by you and
the other compact commissioners with whom you have occasion to collaborate in eliminating or
correcting this area of possible conflict, will be appreciated.
"Harry S. Truman"
"April 21, 1950
"Memorandum for the President:
"Analysis of the enrolled enactment granting the consent.and approval of the Congress to the
Snake River Compact, prior to your approval on March 21, 1950, (Public Law 464, 81st Congress,
2nd Session), revealed the possibility of misinterpretation of certain apparently conflicting
provisions, which did not appear to be serious enough in this particular case to provide a sound
basis for recommending disapproval of the bill, but which, if followed as precedent for general
application, might have far reaching effects upon the interests of the United States. The con-
flicts arise primarily between specific provisions imposing restrictions upon uses of water by
the United States for power and other purposes, and the general savings clause in Article XIV.
This article provides that nothing in the compact shall be deemed to impair or affect any rights
or powers of the United States in and to the use of the waters of the Snake River nor its capac-
ity to acquire rights in and to the use of said waters. By reason of such conflicts, doubts may
arise as to the extent of the control which the States concerned may exercise over the rights,
interests and structures owned or built by the United States on the river. The resulting possi-
bility of confusion thus tends to defeat one of the basic purposes of the compact, of settling
the respective rights and interests of the Federal and State Governments in, over and to the
"The Committee on Public Lands of the House of Representatives, in its report on the bill
(S. 3159) recorded its interpretation of the term "beneficial uses" appearing in Article XIV-B,
as not regarded by the Committee as including the use and control of water by the United States
by reason of its power with respect to navigable waters under the commerce clause of the Con-
stitution (H. R. Report No. 1743, 81st Congress, 2nd Session). It is also significant that the
Congress saw fit to include in the enactment a provision (Section 2) expressly preserving to the
United States the right to alter, amend, and repeal the Act at any time.
"Somewhat similar provisions appear in the proposed Cheyenne River Compact now pending
before Congress (H. R. 3336 and S. 1211) and in the Republican River Compact approved May 26,
1943, and the Belle Fourche River Basin Compact approved February 26, 1944. In approving each of
these latter enactments, President Roosevelt issued a statement emphasizing that the procedure
prescribed by the bill for exercise of the powers of the Federal Government, would not be
entirely satisfactory in all circumstances and that these compacts should not serve as precedents,
particularly for streams where there appears to be a possible need for Federal comprehensive
multiple purpose development or where opportunities for important electric power projects are
present. Likewise the Snake River Compact should not serve as a precedent.
"In its report in S. 3159 the Public Lands Committee of the Senate expressed the view that
the compact method is the logical and proper manner to settle interstate water controversies.
With this view I am in accord but I am also mindful that compact provisions, which are subject
to misinterpretation or leave in doubt the respective rights and interests of the United States
and the affected States, serve to impair these rights. It is obvious therefore, that the compact
method places upon the compact commissioners the important responsibility of drawing compacts in
specific and unequivocal language, devoid of all possible ambiguity, and which do not attempt to
define, limit or otherwise determine the extent of the powers to be exercised by the United States
which is a matter for determination by the Congress through Federal legislation as required.
"The importance of insuring that future compacts more adequately reflect a clear recog-
nition of the respective responsibilities and prerogatives of the United States and the affected
States, I believe is readily apparent. In formulating provisions of interstate water compacts,
which impose restrictions upon use by the United States of waters in the streams concerned, the
responsibility for protecting the rights and interests of the United States rests in the first
instance upon those appointed to represent the Federal Government in negotiations with the State
compact commissions. The Federal Representatives also are in a position to assist the compact
commission in avoiding further use of questionable or conflicting provisions similar to the
aforementioned, in order to minimize the possibility of disapproval of the compact by the State
legislatures or the Federal Government, or the later possibility of prolonged and costly
"F. J. Lawton