State Of Washington And Well-Known Large Northwest Farmer Square Off Over Snake River Water

A large-scale Northwest farmer allegedly stole Snake River irrigation water during this past summer. And Washington state has clamped down hard with an unusually-large fine.

Washington-based Frank Tiegs owns an empire of farming and food processing plants from Oregon to Idaho. Everything from raspberries to rutabagas and potato slices and dices. But Washington state’s Department of Ecology says Tiegs’ company stole enough Snake River irrigation water to raise 250 acres of crops. The fine levied against Tiegs is unusually high – $304,000. The agency says Tiegs had no right to the water, and taking it threatened salmon in a drought year. The local Benton County Water Conservancy Board defends Tiegs, saying it plans to appeal the state’s fine – which is the largest levied by the Water Resources program in Eastern Washington since 2017.