By Seth Oliver; Guest Contributor for the Coeur d’Alene Press
The fifth edition of the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer (SVRPA) Atlas is set to be printed and available early this spring.
The SVRPA Atlas is a collaborative effort of groundwater professionals, water quality experts, environmental specialists and science educators from Washington and Idaho to disseminate the most up-to-date information on our region’s sole source of drinking water.
The SVRPA Atlas is the culmination of hard work among more than 30 individuals over the past 20 years to consolidate some of the most important information regarding our region’s aquifer, including ways to protect it.
The Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer is a predominantly gravel, cobble and boulder aquifer that has the ability to transmit large quantities of water over a large distance very quickly. This fact is very good from a water availability perspective, but also presents unique challenges when making efforts to preserve the water quality from human impacts.
Water moves quickly through the gravel, cobble and boulder. This means that contaminants can as well. As such, the SVRPA Atlas aims to educate the public and inform all stakeholders on the facts of the region’s sole source of drinking water. The publication is intended to be an educational, planning and general technical resource.
In Idaho, several areas such as the cities of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, Dalton Gardens, Rathdrum, Huetter, Athol, Spirit Lake, Garwood, Chilco Area, Twin Lakes Area, Bayview and Stateline all rely on the SVRPA for their drinking water. All of these areas require no treatment of the drinking water as it stands today; this is largely due to efforts of the community and decision-makers to carry out hard planning decisions to preserve our region’s drinking water source. Many regions around the country do not have the ease, convenience and luxury of access to such clean drinking water straight from the tap. The Aquifer Atlas Committee hopes to carry the work from previous editions and past decision-making efforts forward and educate the public about our precious drinking water resource.
Fortunately, there are many ways we can all help to keep groundwater clean, and the Aquifer Atlas contains a lot of good ideas for us to follow to maintain a good source of drinking water.
Some examples include only letting rain go down storm drains; properly storing, handling and disposing of chemicals; and regularly maintaining septic systems. For more information, look for the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer Atlas in town around you this Spring. You can pick one up at the offices of: Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Panhandle Health District, local city and county offices and the University of Idaho — Coeur d’Alene.
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