Clean Water Act

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

If you’re a city manager looking to renew your town’s sewer treatment plant permit, you’re going to have to wait a while to get a new one. The EPA administers permits for the state under the Clean Water Act.

Idaho wants to take over regulating pollution discharge into the state's lakes and rivers from the federal government.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday submitted an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take control of permitting and enforcement aspects under the federal Clean Water Act.

Idaho is one of four states where federal officials regulate pollution discharge into surface waters.

State officials say having Idaho run the program will have local experts better acquainted with Idaho making decisions.

Stephen Mitchell / Flickr Creative Commons

The contamination of drinking water in Flint, Michigan has brought the issue of lead poisoning to many people’s attention. The brown-colored water from the Flint River was not treated for lead, and children in the town are especially vulnerable to getting sick. The crisis in Michigan has caused drinking water regulators to take another look at their own systems – including in Idaho.
 

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge in North Dakota has blocked a new rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some state waters.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction Thursday against the Obama administration rule. The rule gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Redspotted / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing Friday in Fargo on an effort by 13 states to block a new rule that gives federal authorities jurisdiction over some state waters.

The states, led by North Dakota, argue that the rules from the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers illegally expand those agencies' powers under the federal Clean Water Act.

The law goes into effect next week. The states want the judge to order an injunction to suspend the new rules.

Many landowners are worried even a ditch or puddle could fall under the new federal regulations.

A House committee has advanced to the full Idaho House a bill aimed at eliminating federal Clean Water Act protections for suction dredges and also opening Wild and Scenic Rivers to the miners.

The bill before the House Resources and Conservation Committee on Wednesday narrowly avoided dying in committee amid constitutionality concerns with a first vote that ended in a 9-9 tie.

The committee than approved by voice vote sending the bill the full House but with an amendment.

Dennis Amith / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho City residents have been told they need to boil their water before drinking it. The order went into effect Sunday after high levels of sediment was found coming out of the town's water treatment plant. 

Idaho City's drinking water comes from Elk Creek, which has been running with more soil and debris than normal from the recent rains. Mayor Jim Obland says the boil advisory is an inconvenience but a necessary precaution.

Federal regulators say the Amalgamated Sugar Co. has agreed to pay $7,500 for violating the Clean Water Act at its facility in Paul.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the enforcement action Monday.

EPA investigators say the company discharged stormwater without a permit last year. The agency cited the company for discharging 4,000 gallons of stormwater from a storage lagoon to a drainage and irrigation ditch that empties into the Snake River without permission in its permit.

Greg Harness / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] has reached a settlement agreement with Jerome Cheese Company that would have the cheesemaker paying more than $300,000 in fines for dumping too many pollutants into the Snake River.

For Northwest Brewers, 'It's (Still) The Water'

Feb 22, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

Across the Northwest, home brewers and microbreweries enjoy the best local ingredients. Hops from the Willamette Valley. Barley from Washington. But there’s one ingredient that is often overlooked: the water. 

Northwest Cities And Towns Still Struggle To Control Sewage Plant Pollution

Oct 2, 2012
Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

A major goal of the 1972 Clean Water Act was to stop cities and towns from discharging raw sewage. The federal government gave communities billion of dollars to build wastewater treatment plants. But those early grants are gone and those plants have aged.

EarthFix

When he was a kid, Mark Schmidt would fish for steelhead and salmon on the Molalla river. He’s stay with a friend in a little cabin on the banks.

“If we could so much as hear the raindrops on the shingles in the night, we were aware that we would not be fishing in the morning.”

The Molalla flows from the west slope of the Oregon Cascades. About half watershed is private forest land. Schmidt says in the 60s, the area was being heavily logged. When it rained the logging operations sent sediment pouring down the river.

“It kind of looked like orange wet cement.”

Katie Campbell

This fall marks the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act – a piece of legislation that changed the way water  in this country is regulated and protected.

Pollution was supposed to be curtailed so that fish from all the waters in America would be safe for people to eat. 40 years later, though, many waterways still bear fish too tainted to consume safely.

Poll Finds Water Quality A Top Concern In Northwest

Jul 18, 2012
Katie Campbell

A new public opinion poll finds that water quality ranks as Northwesterners’ top environmental concern.

DHM Research asked 1,200 residents in Washington, Idaho and Oregon about their environmental concerns. Sixty percent said they worried about drinking water, and 54 percent said they were concerned about local lakes, rivers and streams. That result tracks with previous polls.

People said they were happy, overall, with the water that comes out of their tap.

Clean Water: The Next Act - Seattle's Duwamish River

Jul 18, 2012

This fall marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and over the next few month's EarthFix and Investigate West will be reporting on the Northwest's water. This ongoing special report begins with Seattle’s Duwamish River. 

It's been the industrial heart of the city for a century. It’s been straightened, filled and diked. During World War II thousands of airplanes were built there. Today cargo from around the world arrives in massive container ships, lining the mouth of the river. Industrial facilities dot its banks.