Frequently Asked Questions
Who manages the District?
The Pioneer Irrigation District is operated by a staff of water delivery professionals under the guidance and supervision of a three-member Board of Directors. Board of Directors meetings are scheduled to be held on the 7th of each month at the District office at 3804 S. Lake Ave. in Caldwell, Idaho.
Directors are elected to their positions by landowners in the District. The election is held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. All precincts vote at the District office at 3804 S. Lake Avenue in Caldwell.
Pressurized Subdivisions - Who to call when you have a problem?
Many of the subdivisions that have pressurized sprinklers are not maintained by Pioneer even though they may technically be within the District boundaries. The cities of Nampa and Caldwell each have their own municipal irrigation districts that handle many of these subdivisions.
What that means is that while Pioneer might actually provide the water to the pump station that pressurizes the water, the city who has annexed that subdivision handles everything from the pump station into the subdivision. They also bill each lot.
When you have a problem such as no water or too much water, and you live in a pressurized subdivision, please the check the list at the link below and contact the appropriate city. If your subdivision isn't on the list, you are welcome to call Pioneer's office and we'll be happy to help figure out who you need to contact. Click here for subdivision list.
Who owns the canals and ditches?
The Phyllis Canal, Lowline Canal and Highline Canal, main ditches and some drains are owned and/or operated by Pioneer Irrigation District. In addition, a strip of land along the sides of the canal is also a part of the right-of-way established for that canal or lateral. This strip of land is used by Pioneer to operate and maintain the canal or lateral.
Community or delivery ditches are normally owned by the individuals or water user associations using the ditch and were created as a result of farm units being divided into multiple ownership properties. Normally, it is the responsibility of the landowners using these community or delivery ditches to operate and maintain them.
Who owns the water in the canals and ditches?
The water in the canals has been appropriated from the State for private use, just like drinking water supplied by a city. Pioneer Irrigation can assist in determining which land has a valid water right and the designated point of delivery for the water. The water right is held in trust by the irrigation district for the use of the lands for which the water was designated.
Why do people throw trash into ditches and canals?
The truth is we really don't know. Area ditches and canals, whether Pioneer's or private, are NOT waste receptacles. Trash thrown into ditches and canals will flow away with the water; however most of the time, that trash will collect downstream at a road crossing or other canal structure. When that happens, flooding can and often does occur; causing damage to private property.
NEVER throw trash such as lawn waste (grass, leaves, branches, etc.), garbage, tires, paint, etc. into ditches and canals. Not only is it damaging to the irrigation system and the private property of others, but it is illegal (Idaho Code 18-4301).
What happens if I don't pay the irrigation tax?
Pioneer Irrigation levies an irrigation tax against all lands in the District in the fall of each year (at the end of the irrigation season). Payment of the 1st half is due by December 20 of the year of assessment. The 2nd half is due by June 20 of the following year.
It is important for you to understand Idaho law requires you to pay irrigation taxes just as you are required to pay property taxes if your property has a water right. Failure to pay may result in higher taxes for all taxpayers.
If you do not pay your assessment, the District will file a tax lien on your property. If assessments are not paid within three years after recording the delinquency at the County Recorder's Office, Idaho Law 43-716 requires the Treasurer of Pioneer Irrigation to issue to the District a tax deed to the property. To avoid the potential loss of title to the property through tax deed sale, the landowner must pay all unpaid liens or assessments.
The purchaser of a tax deed at a tax deed sale holds all rights and title that the irrigation district acquired through the assessment and delinquency proceedings. Once the sale is made and a deed of sale is delivered to the purchaser, any further action is between the landowner and the purchaser, not the landowner and the irrigation district.
Why do I have to pay my assessment if I don't get water?
The assessment you pay each year is not only for the water itself. You are also paying the tax on the water right that comes with the property and that is regulated by State Code. Most of the land within the boundaries of Pioneer Irrigation District are under contractual obligation for the expense of the maintenance of the dams, canals and ditches. Please keep in mind that the dams, in particular, were built not only for irrigation purposes, but also for flood control and recreation - something everyone benefits from. Thus the lands are held liable for the assessments.
Your property has a water right. However, in some instances, the subdivider has failed to provide any way for water to be delivered to an individual property from it's delivery point. Pioneer's responsibility is to deliver water to what is called a Delivery Point, and it is the property owner's responsibility to get it from that Delivery Point to their property.
If you would like to know where the delivery point is for your property, please call our office at the number at the bottom of the page and we can provide that information. It is then up to you to determine how to get that water to your property. In some cases, you may need legal help or to work with local governmental agencies to help.
You can choose to forfeit your water right, and if you are interested in how to do that, along with the long term implications, please call the office.
Why did my assessment go up from last year?
There are a number of factors that play into the assessment amount and that question cannot be answered with one answer for all. Pioneer is a non-profit, government municipality and strives to work as efficiently as possible to limit the need to raise assessments as much as possible. However, just as you experience cost increases in your household expenses, the District experiences the same cost increases for supplies. If you have questions on your bill specifically, please call the office and have your account number handy.
Why are there so many canals and ditches in urban areas?
Southern Idaho has an arid climate. Early settlers discovered that water could be diverted from rivers and streams and applied to fields for crops that otherwise could not be grown. Canals/ditches were constructed to convey water from the Boise River to the fields.
Many towns and cities in the Treasure Valley are growing and expanding into areas that were originally irrigated crop land. Homes are built next to irrigation facilities as a result of this expansion. The canals and ditches must remain to convey water to lands which are entitled to its use, many of which are located in and adjacent to urban/suburban areas.
About your irrigation district assessment
Under Idaho law, the District assesses land inside its boundaries to help pay for the operation and maintenance of the District's water storage, drainage and distribution system. Assessments for each tract of land are based upon the land's water rights. Idaho law specifies that the assessment becomes a legal obligation of the land (Idaho Code 43-706) and therefore, the responsibility of the landowner.
Why does the Disrict cut down some of the trees and brush along the along the canals, ditches or drains?
Although the trees and brush along a canal, ditch or drain may appear to be aesthetically pleasing, they can present a problem for Pioneer Irrigation. Trees and brush reduce the efficiency of the canal, and a larger percentage of water conveyed in the canal is "lost" due to the vegetation.
By controlling, but not eliminating, vegetation along the canals or drains, more water is available to irrigate the land. When trees or brush fall into a canal, ditch or drain, the blockage can cause flooding or an increase in groundwater. Removing certain vegetation in advance helps reduce the cost and danger.
Responsible watering and crop irrigation
It is the responsibility of every property owner to insure they are being responsible with their watering habits to prevent future restrictions. When watering your lawn, please monitor the water to ensure you aren't over watering. Lawns in the Treasure Valley DO NOT NEED to be watered every day or 24 hours per day.
If you are a crop irrigator, please order your water on and off appropriately. If water is not ordered off, it is wasted down drain ditches and not able to be put to beneficial use for irrigation purposes. This adversely affects everyone in the District.
Have a question? E-mail us or call 459-3617.