Idaho Water Resource Board invests in aquifer recharge, irrigation efficiency projects

Idaho News
Capital Press The Idaho Water Resource Board’s Milepost 31 Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer recharge site. Projects adding to recharge capacity are among those funded by the board Nov. 18. Boosting aquifer levels and improving irrigation delivery efficiency are the focus of Idaho Water Resource Board moves to financially support several projects in the state’s south-central and southeast regions. The board Nov. 18 approved a $14.1 million loan to Raft River Recharge Group. Plans call for building a pump station on the Snake River, a 13-mile pipeline, and recharge basins to add water to a declining aquifer in a state-designated critical groundwater management area. The declining aquifer levels are a key factor in intermittent surface flows on the Raft River, a Snake tributary. Most farmers are now pumping groundwater for irrigation,…
Read More

New study of Lake Coeur d’Alene shows water quality gradually improving

Idaho News
Spokane Public Radio The new study says heavy metals, phosphorus levels are steadily decreasing. Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio A National Academy of Sciences draft report concludes the quality of the water in Lake Coeur d’Alene has improved over the years. The report was shared this week at a symposium in Coeur d’Alene. Dan McCracken from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality says the study found that the main sources of pollution — heavy metals and phosphorus — are entering the lake at lower levels than in the past. “Although we are still a long ways away from where we want to be, we’re starting to see some water quality improvements, just in the last five-to-10 years. Metals loading, coming from the upper Coeur d’Alene River, has consistently been improving since…
Read More

Spokane Riverkeeper urges conservation as water flows fall

Idaho News
By Kip Hall; The Spokesman Review Kayakers paddle slowly down the Little Spokane River where it flows along State Route 291 and near where it flows into the Spokane River in this July 2021 photo. River flows that year were among their lowest over the past five years, according to United States Geological Survey data, and flows this year are approaching those levels after the river was roaring from heavy snowmelt and rain earlier this spring. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW) The organization tasked with protecting the Spokane River is urging city residents to reduce their water use, including watering lawns and plants just twice per week, during the final weeks of summer as flows plunge to droughtlike levels. “We had all this water. We had this great snowpack,” said Jerry White…
Read More

River and Sky: A fish biologist’s perspective of counting salmon from the air

Idaho News
By Carli Baum; East Idaho News SALMON RIVER — On a chilly morning, I’m awake and alert as I can be. I’m strapped into a helicopter seat, flight helmet on, doors off, safety checks done, GPS in one hand, radio in the other and a data sheet secured to my thigh. The excitement grows as the rotor blades pick up momentum and start humming loudly. We lift off from the ground and begin our trip into the backcountry. As I look over the wilderness mountains, my heart is pounding, I feel like a fish out of water and think, “How did I end up here? I’m a fish biologist!” As fisheries biologists, we are used to walking along a streambed looking down to see what fish we can find. However,…
Read More

Fuel spills into Palouse River

Idaho News
By Anthony Kuipers; Moscow-Pullman Daily News Containment booms are seen Tuesday in the south fork of the Palouse River in Pullman, after approximately 1,200 gallons of "red dye" diesel spilled Monday from a failed above-ground fuel storage tank at Four Star Supply. Zach Wilkinson/Daily News. Cleanup efforts continued Tuesday after approximately 1,200 gallons of diesel spilled into the south fork of the Palouse River on Monday in Pullman. According to a Washington Department of Ecology news release, an above-ground fuel storage tank at Four Star Supply developed a crack and leaked the “red dye” diesel into the water. Fuel and sheening was observed 1,000 feet downriver from the source. Four Star Supply pumped remaining fuel from the tank, which has a 10,000-gallon capacity, and initiated nearby cleanup and protective measures…
Read More

Scientist presents major groundwater quality analysis for south central Idaho

Idaho News
By Rachel Cohen; Boise State Public Radio News A water quality sampling line is fed down a groundwater well in southern Idaho. Idaho Water Science Center USGS Water in south central Idaho has had nutrient issues for a long time. That’s according to Kenneth Skinner, a groundwater hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. But Skinner said, while several state and federal agencies have collected data in the Magic Valley area since the 1990s, there hasn’t been a recent analysis of regional groundwater contamination trends. That’s what he set out to complete by analyzing samples of a particularly widespread pollutant, nitrogen, from over 500 groundwater wells. Some common sources of nitrogen are fertilizer and manure. His findings, shared at the Idaho Water Quality Workshop on Wednesday, show nitrate levels in the Magic…
Read More

Drought, low snowpack may foretell Idaho’s future

Idaho News
Idaho Statesman Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, Boise, ID. Much of Southern Idaho, cut through in scythe like fashion by the Snake River Plain, relies on the frozen water stored in the state’s mountains to fill its rivers. When winter ends and summer’s broiling heat arrives, it is these snowy peaks that serve as the state’s reservoir, filling the Salmon, Snake, Big Lost, Boise and other tributaries with cold, clear water. But as the amount of snowfall declines, with scientists citing the effects of climate change as a key contributor, major problems arise for the state’s ecosystems, residents and agriculture industry. And that erosion is already underway. By the turn of the century, Idaho could see reductions of 35%-65% of its snowpack, according to a study published in Nature Reviews…
Read More

To breach or not to breach the Snake River dams?

Idaho News
By Joel Mills; Lewiston Tribune The Little Goose Dam is seen Feb. 2 along the Snake River near Riparia, Wash. Pete Caster. Several Lewiston city councilors got behind a proposed resolution in favor of retaining the four lower Snake River dams after a presentation Monday from members of Citizens for Preservation of Fish and Dams, but one councilor said he wants a similar presentation from the other side before he casts a vote. Marvin Dugger, Dick Sherwin and Dan Caldwell from the dam preservation group offered their take in opposition to Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson’s $33 billion proposal to breach the dams to improve fish habitat. Several other area governmental entities have gone on the record in opposition to the plan, including Nez Perce County. And several city of Lewiston…
Read More

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…
Read More