Environment

Report: Save Water, Save Energy

May 18, 2012

A Northwest environmental group is offering a new reason to conserve water: it’s a way to save energy and shrink your carbon footprint.
 

Conservation group Idaho Rivers United monitored 15 water providers in western Idaho to see how much energy they used. It’s the first research of its kind in the country -- and it’s attracting attention.

Liz Paul of Idaho Rivers United says the group hopes the information gives the public a new way of thinking about the water they use.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Boise is revamping its commercial recycling program in an effort to get more businesses to sign up.  Right now, there are 4,000 commercial trash customers, but only 1,000 of them participate in the recycling program.  That means a lot more trash goes into the landfill.  Catherine Chertudi is the solid waste programs manager for Boise Public Works.   “Businesses do dispose of seven time more trash then a residence," she explains. "So there’s a huge opportunity to divert those materials to recycling.” 

A Water Plan For Fish, Families And Farmers

May 17, 2012
Courtney Flatt

Boise gets a visit tonight from a man who’s helped negotiate an ambitious plan to restore the Yakima River Basin in central Washington.  Michael Garrity will speak at an event that starts at 5:45 at Bardenay.  Courtney Flatt reports on the plan that’s finding a way to restore the basin, while making sure fish, farmers and communities have enough water.  

Turn on your faucet, and you’re pretty much guaranteed water will pour out. But managing the water that’s running down our mountainsides and into our streams is not that simple, especially in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Aaron Kunz

A study released Monday by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences indicates that some mammals might be unable to keep up with environmental changes.

The study looked at nearly 500 species in North and South America. It determined that close to 10 percent will not be able change habitat in order to keep pace with climate change.

Governor John Kitzhaber

Gov. John Kitzhaber said Thursday that power customers could play a bigger role in the state's clean energy future. He spoke at the Northwest Smart Grid Summit in Portland.

The governor says a smarter power grid can help Oregon reach his 10-year goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Spring Weather Makes For Tricky River Management

May 9, 2012
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Warmer temperatures this week have kept river levels high in Idaho as mountain snow melts. It’s been a challenging year for those who manage the state’s river systems. That’s because the spring runoff happened a month earlier than last year. It's brought flooding along the Boise River and raises questions about water availability next year. Just ask Ron Abramovich. He's a hydrologist and water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise. 

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Just in time for another anniversary of the catastrophic Mount St. Helens eruption, the U.S. Forest Service is reopening an architecturally-striking visitor center. The Coldwater Ridge facility has been closed for the last four seasons.  The center reopens next week with a new mission and purpose.

Northwest Universities Get Nuclear Grants

May 9, 2012
Courtesy of Donald Wall

The nuclear industry faces a generation gap. A lot of the people who run nuclear power plants are nearing retirement. Now the Obama Administration has awarded $6.3 million to Northwest universities to help train the next generation of nuclear leaders.

Donald Wall directs Washington State University’s Nuclear Radiation Center in Pullman. The reactor is surrounded by the university’s golf course.

“I like to joke that WSU features probably the only golf course in the world that has a nuclear hazard.”

Rhodes International

The owners of a Caldwell frozen bread and cinnamon roll plant will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency more than $84,000 for hazardous chemical violations.  

The EPA announced Monday that Rhodes International stored large amounts of anhydrous ammonia at its Caldwell facility without proper reporting to public safety officials.  The chemical is a toxic gas that can cause serious injury or death. 

The average Idaho Power customer will pay at least $5.50 more a month starting this summer.   The state public utilities commission will likely go along with the company’s requests.    

Tim Merrick / US Geological Survey

 

The Boise River is under a flood warning for the next several days.   Dave Groenert  is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. He says that warning will remain at least for the next seven days as temperatures rise. “They (temperatures ) look to peak at the middle of next week Wednesday,” explains Groenert. “And then after that cool back to normal.”

New wind generation station in Eastern Washington

May 2, 2012
Dan_H / Flickr

You may be familiar with the sight of wind turbine generators in the Columbia Gorge, but soon, dozens of the tall structures will be built some 40 miles south of Spokane.

Washington DNR

National experts predict parts of the West, including southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon, are at a higher than normal risk for wildfires this season.

A map of the Western U.S. shows three tendrils of red. One looks like a statue from Easter Island whose foot and tail cover Southern California.  Its thin body extends across Nevada while its misshapen head reaches into the southern border of Oregon and Idaho. 

Washington DNR

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released its annual prediction for the summer wildfire season.  Parts of ten Western states – including Idaho - are at higher than usual risk of wildfires.  

Anna King / Northwest News Network

In the remote valleys of southeast Oregon both birds and cattle flourish. This is where mountain streams feed an oasis of lakes and marshes in the high desert. Cattle ranchers and wildlife advocates have been fighting over that valuable grassland for decades. Now, they’ve struck a delicate truce that keeps both birds and burgers in mind.

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