News

All Health Advisories for Toxic Algae in North Idaho Lifted

Idaho News
KREM 2 Credit: Panhandle Health District IDAHO, USA — All health advisory warnings that were issued for toxic algae blooms in summer months for counties in North Idaho have been lifted. The Panhandle Health District (PHD) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that there are still some ongoing blooms in North Idaho, but the recreation season has ended and the risk of human exposure has been greatly reduced. Cold weather and rain have a tendency to dissipate HABs, but the public is advised to stay away from water that is discolored, with streaks or globs of scum, or where thick green mats have formed along lake shorelines.  Surface Water Manager with the DEQ Bob Steed said high temperatures led to significantly more harmful blooms than have been…
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Farmers Provide Crucial Habitat for Migratory Waterfowl

Idaho News
By Carol Ryan Dumas, Capital Press ROBERTS, Idaho — Richard Gilchrist raises a small herd of Angus cross cattle about 20 miles northwest of Idaho Falls. He also flood irrigates his pasture and the alfalfa and grass he grows for hay, a practice that is falling out of favor among irrigators who seek efficiency in their operations. But Gilchrist’s goal goes beyond irrigation efficiency. “I’m interested in preserving the habitat for the birds and the various wildlife,” he said. He has two plots, each about 150 acres. One is bordered on two sides by the Market Lake Wildlife Management Area, more than 6,000 acres of stopover habitat for waterfowl and nesting habitat for some bird species. His flood-irrigated fields are an integral part of the birds’ survival, providing food and…
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Cascade Reservoir Water Quality Study Set

Idaho News
By Brad Carlson, Capital Press The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will study the Cascade Reservoir in Idaho to figure out ways to improve its water quality. Cascade Reservoir, near timberlands and meadows about 80 miles north of Boise, is shallow and subject to algae blooms. The blooms are driven by high water temperatures and nutrient levels. It also is known as Lake Cascade. The Snake River Area Office received a $308,200 grant for the pilot project to model the reservoir's operations. The goal is to find operations-related ways to improve water quality. The pilot project will evaluate whether operations at Cascade and nearby Deadwood Reservoir can be coordinated to improve water quality. Operating alternatives will consider “all requirements and constraints” such as physical capacity, irrigation demands, flow augmentation and flood…
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The 2021 Water Year: Anything But Normal

Idaho News
By Mychel Matthews and Hannah Ashton, Times News TWIN FALLS — An uncertain winter snowpack, empty reservoirs on the Upper Snake River, and the prediction of the repeat La Nina weather pattern will force farmers in the south-central Idaho desert to make tough decisions about what crops to grow in 2022. Crops in the Magic Valley significantly suffered through the past year’s hot, dry growing conditions and growers now worry about next year. Idaho is in a drought “that is unprecedented in recent memory,” according to the Idaho Department Resources. An exceptionally dry spring followed by a summer heatwave resulted in the driest March-to-July period since 1924. To date, 2021 is the 15th driest year Twin Falls has experienced since the town’s inception, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric…
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Youth Academy Pitches In On Clearwater River Cleanup

Idaho News
Idaho County Free Press For the fourth year, cadets from the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy (IDYCA), located in Pierce, pitched in during the annual Clearwater River Cleanup Day on Sept. 17. According to a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) release, the cadets removed hundreds of pounds of debris and trash from the river and shoreline along a 5-mile stretch from Cherry Lane to Gibbs Eddy. “While we host this event each year to help clean up the river, our goal is to find less and less trash each time,” stated BLM Cottonwood field manager Richard White. “Together with the Clearwater Management Council, we are really trying to encourage everyone who recreates on the river to leave no trace.” The annual cleanup day event is supported by the BLM’s Cottonwood Field…
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Idaho Water Resource Board Expands Cloud Seeding

Idaho News
By Brad Carlson, Capital Press The Idaho Water Resource Board at its Sept. 16-17 meeting voted to continue cloud-seeding programs — and to start a new effort this winter in the state’s southeast corner. House Bill 266, which he Legislature passed this year, says the board is responsible for authorizing cloud seeding and may participate in it and hire contractors. HB 266 directs the board to identify additional basins that cloud seeding would benefit, and to work with stakeholders. It limits liability for participating in certain projects and says no state or local permits are required. Cloud seeding has been used in parts of Idaho for years. Upper Snake, Big Wood, Boise and Payette river basins have aircraft- or ground-based iequipment to seed winter storms. The board is continuing its…
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Idaho Seeking $2M Worth Of Project Ideas To Reduce Phosphorous In Lake Coeur d’Alene

Idaho News
By Samantha Wohlfeil, Inlander Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality will soon be awarding $2 million to projects that will reduce phosphorous on Coeur d'Alene Lake. The funding from the state is part of Gov. Brad Little's "Building Idaho's Future" plan. The projects are intended to prevent the lake from reaching a dangerous tipping point where heavy metal contamination that has mostly remained in sediments could become suspended in the water column due to a shift in the water chemistry. Like much of North Idaho, the lake faces issues with contamination deposited during decades of silver and lead mining in the region. To be eligible, projects must include on-the-ground reductions in phosphorous, be located in Idaho within the watersheds that drain into Coeur d'Alene Lake, and have community support. Projects on…
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Five Years After Water Rights Agreement, Idaho’s Largest Aquifer Is Improving

Idaho News
By Rachel Cohen, Boise State Public Radio News For decades, Idaho cities and farms have relied on the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. In the early 2000s, years of drought forced competing water users to come together. Five years into the compromise, officials say water levels are improving and that the system could provide some lessons for the West on managing declining aquifers. Underneath southern Idaho, stretching into eastern Idaho, lies a body of water the size of Lake Erie. Brian Patton, the Executive Officer of the Idaho Water Resource Board, calls it a “world-class aquifer.”  It supplies drinking water to about 300,000 people and irrigation water to more than 2 million agricultural acres, which, according to the water resource board, account for 20 to 30% of Idaho’s economic output. For 50…
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Ground Water/Source Water Protection Paper Published

Research
The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) have jointly released a paper developed by ASDWA with the help of a few states entitled, “Groundwater-Based Source Water Protection.” This paper serves as a great educational handout for state drinking water and groundwater programs, as well as water utilities and other water quality stakeholders, to share with potential partners when talking about the importance of, and special considerations for, protecting groundwater sources of drinking water. The paper includes a short background and four sections: The Challenge of Protecting Groundwater SourcesFederal and State Programs for Groundwater ProtectionElements of a Groundwater Protection FrameworkState Examples Anyone interested in protecting groundwater can use this paper to help drive actions and work with partners on any or all the…
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