As summer temperatures heat up the Treasure Valley, many homeowners turn to their irrigation district to water their lawn. These districts crisscross the Valley, but the largest is the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District (NMID). And NMID says its tax time.
Daren Coon is the Secretary Treasurer of the District, which has been around since 1904. It supplies irrigation water to 69,000 acres. That includes of farms, homes, and businesses whose owners pay taxes to the District. The 37,000 property owners in NMID are required to pay last year's taxes by June 20. People who don’t pay face a lien on their property.
Coon says around 4,000 people haven’t paid their bill. He says that money is used to keep up the District.
“It’s used to pay for the operation and maintenance of the canal, lateral, and drain system and reservoir maintenance charges for Anderson Ranch Dam and Arrowrock on the Boise River.”
Coon says you have to pay taxes if you live in the district, even if you don’t use irrigation water.
“The water rights are apportioned to the land and even though you choose not to use the irrigation water, it is a requirement of law to pay the irrigation tax,” says Coon, “in most cases, most people can use the water and do use it.”
Coon says the District covers a large portion of the Treasure Valley, including parts of Ada, Canyon, and Idaho counties. Coon says, without it, the Valley would still be an undeveloped desert.
“Irrigation water really built the Valley. There are a lot of other institutions that came along later, but they really wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the irrigation water.”
Coon says that’s because we live in a high plateau desert.
“If you want to see what life would have been like without irrigation, simply go out south of the Boise Airport and look to the south and that’s really what this valley looked like,” he says. “There were no trees, only a small amount along the Boise River and certainly there was no farming because there was no irrigation water.”
He says that water was, and is, crucial.
“Without irrigation or water, development just isn’t going to happen. Development can’t be sustained,” he says.
By law, owners that don’t pay last year’s bill this month will get a lien against their property. Coon says non-payment for three years can lead to the property being sold at auction to pay the bill. But he says that rarely happens.
“The district may sell one or two properties a year. Sale of property for delinquent taxes is very rare, but it does happen and that is what the law requires of irrigation districts in the state of Idaho. It is not a choice.”
If you’re not sure if you owe taxes, or don’t know if you live in the district the map below might help. Or, Coon says, you can contact the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
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