Idaho must accelerate efforts to curtail river pollution

In a letter sent to Idaho Division of Environmental Quality Director Toni Hardesty today, Idaho Rivers United voiced support for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released State Framework for Managing Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution and called on DEQ to accelerate efforts to reduce nutrient pollution of Idaho’s rivers and aquifers.

Liz Paul, IRU Boise River Campaign Coordinator said, “Chronic nutrient pollution plagues many Idaho rivers including the Boise and Snake Rivers. Polluted rivers and aquifers weaken our economy and diminish our quality of life. Greater resources must be dedicated to reducing the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen entering our waterways.”

Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water Nancy K. Stoner issued the long-awaited Framework on March 16. The Framework recommends eight elements for state action including targeting priority watersheds, reducing pollution through point source permits, using effective and innovation strategies to reduce agricultural and other nonpoint pollution, and phased development of numeric criteria. Idaho and many other states now use a narrative standard to gauge nutrient pollution, i.e. how does the water look? In the accompanying memo, Ms. Stoner describes a trend of escalating pollution with the potential of becoming “one of the costliest and most challenging environmental problems we face” and invites states to partner with EPA to achieve near-term reductions in nutrient loadings.

“Idaho must step forward and work in partnership with EPA and local stakeholders to eliminate unnecessary pollution of our irreplaceable rivers. Current efforts are not achieving results as quickly as possible, and higher priority must be given to keeping phosphorus and nitrogen out of our rivers and aquifers,” said Ms. Paul.

Idaho Rivers United is a membership organization in its 21st year of protecting and restoring Idaho’s rivers and native fisheries. For more information visit www.idahorivers.org or call 208 343-7481.