DEQ

Kurt Carpenter / USGS

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is holding its 27th annual water quality workshop at Boise State this week. Dan Wise is with the U.S. Geological Survey in Oregon, and Wednesday he’s presenting his findings from a regional study on phosphorus in streams.

Here’s a quick high school science refresher: Phosphorus is a chemical element and is essential for life. It’s in chemical fertilizer, as well as in animal and human waste. But there’s a delicate balance – too much phosphorus can cause problems in waterways with too much plant growth.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

"Nitrate" may as well be a four-letter word in the small town of Ashton, Idaho.

The eastern Idaho town of 1,200 people is about 20 miles from the border of Wyoming. Settlers in the area in the 1890s quickly took advantage the fertile volcanic soil beneath their feet, and began diverting water to irrigate the land. Seed potatoes are the big cash crop, though wheat, barley and hay also contribute to the local economy.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Earlier in this series, we told you about the importance of ground water in Idaho. The state relies on underground aquifers and private wells to quench the thirst of 90-95 percent of the population.

Chinook Salmon, fish
Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

A recently completed Idaho fish consumption survey that's part of a state process to set new water quality standards could mean greater restrictions for towns and businesses with wastewater discharge permits.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality released the report Wednesday as part of a process that started after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected the state's current standards in 2012.

Kevin Micalizzi / Flickr Creative Commons

The United States Geological Survey recently studied nitrate levels in streams around the country. The study found that nitrate – which can be dangerous in drinking water – can affect water systems for decades.

Although none of these study areas were in Idaho, Michael Lewis says the study is worth a closer look.

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

An official with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says the Treasure Valley is experiencing the worst air quality since a bad winter inversion in 2002. Smoke from wildfires around the region have kept the air quality index between 101 and 150 for several days. That’s the orange category. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

There’s been a haze over southwest Idaho since Monday evening from several fires in the region. The air quality in the Treasure Valley Tuesday falls in the moderate range. Dave Luft with Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality says that’s considered safe for most people.