Water

Environment
3:08 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Study: Defunct Idaho Mine Contaminating Blackfoot River

An 11-year state and federal study of selenium pollution in a southeastern Idaho watershed where some 700 sheep, cattle and horses have died over the last several decades after grazing in contaminated areas has found the toxin is likely moving through groundwater.

The 36-page study on the Upper Blackfoot River Watershed released earlier this month by the U.S. Geological Survey also found that selenium levels spiked in the river during spring thaw.

Researchers say the inactive Maybe Canyon Mine is producing the most contamination.

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Environment
10:56 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Why Idahoans Use More Water At Home Than Anyone Else In The Country

Idahoans use more water than residents in every other U.S. state.
Credit Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr Creative Commons

Idahoans are using more water per capita than residents of any other state according to a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS does a detailed look at water use every fifth year.

Molly Maupin led the team that calculated the nation’s water use for 2010. It took them four years to compile all the data. They looked at all the different ways people were using water, from morning showers to cooling nuclear power plants.

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Environment
6:02 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

'Soil Burritos' Hold Together Northwest River Banks More Like Nature Does

Soil wrapped in biodegradable coconut fiber is layered on willow branches at the Kahnderosa Campground in north Idaho.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing out a new technique for keeping heavily-used river banks from eroding into the water.

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Water
12:16 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Report: Ground Water Levels Have Dropped In Southern Wood River Valley

Stream near Sun Valley
Credit rickotto62 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) finds that ground water levels have dropped in parts of the Wood River Valley.

USGS hydrologist Jim Bartolino’s team looked at changes in ground water and surface water between 2006 and 2012.

Bartolino says there are two distinct parts to the aquifer under the valley.

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Environment
9:50 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Work To Improve Salmon Habitat In Central Idaho Set To Begin

Credit Roger Tabor / USFWS Pacific

Blaine County commissioners in central Idaho have approved permits what will allow workers to improve fish passage on a key stream for chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that commissioners last week approved work expected to start this week on Pole Creek.

The creek is designated critical habitat for the fish.

The stream-alteration and flood plain conditional-use permit means a culvert on private property that impedes fish passage will be replaced with a bridge.

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Water Policy
12:53 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Why It Took 27 Years And $94 Million To Complete Idaho Water Rights Adjudication

Idaho Deputy Attorney General Clive Strong helped oversee the 27-year Snake River Basin Adjudication.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The largest-ever review of water rights claims wrapped up in Idaho this week. A project that started in 1987 ended Monday when a judge signed the final decree of the Snake River Basin Adjudication

Conflicts between Idaho Power, its customers and farmers in southern Idaho in the late 1970s prompted the state to tackle the massive review. The goal was simple: to clearly define water rights in the basin to help resolve future disputes during drought. 

Since the project, Idaho has defined more than 158,000 water rights.

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Science
1:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.
Clint Muhlfeld USGS

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 5:29 pm

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

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Environment
9:03 am
Wed August 20, 2014

North Idaho Set To Begin Negotiations Over Water Rights

Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The state of Idaho is preparing to establish water rights in the northern part of the state. It's a relatively water-abundant area, not prone to the sort of conflicts that have erupted elsewhere like Oregon's Klamath Basin.

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Environment
9:58 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Dredging On Docket For Managing Lower Snake River Sediment

Idaho's Clearwater River.
Credit J Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its final plan and environmental impact statement for managing sediment accumulation in the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers in northern Idaho.

The plan calls for dredging the navigation channel of the lower Snake River at the confluence of the Clearwater River as early as between Dec. 15 and Feb. 28 this winter.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the agency has been working on the plan since 2005. The final plan is more than 3,900 pages and cost $16 million to prepare.

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Fish
9:59 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Hundreds Of Chinook Salmon Die After Central Idaho Storms

Credit Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of adult chinook salmon needed to create future generations have been killed after rainstorms sent sediment into a fish trap on the South Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho.

Officials tell the Idaho Statesman that the loss means significantly fewer adult chinook salmon will return to the South Fork Salmon in 2018.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says the rain event on Aug. 6 caused sediment to flow into holding ponds and suffocate the fish.

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Environment
10:20 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Canadian Mine Dam Break Could Threaten Northwest Salmon Fisheries

This aerial image shows Monday's Mount Polley dam break and some of the damage downstream.
Credit Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre

A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

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Environment
5:21 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Holy Mackerel (Er, Sturgeon)! Giant Idaho Fish Weighs In At 470 Pounds

This 10-foot-long female sturgeon was caught on the Snake River. She was measured by Idaho Power biologists Clayton Waller and Chad Reininger.
Credit Courtesy Idaho Power

This, folks, is a 470-pound sturgeon that was recently reeled in, tagged, and released by Idaho Power. The 10-foot-long female was caught in Hells Canyon on the Snake River. Did we mention this fish is 75 years old? That means she was born in 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President.

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Agriculture
9:44 am
Mon July 28, 2014

USDA Approves Emergency Grazing In Eastern Idaho

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved emergency haying and grazing on land normally used for the Conservation Reserve Program in parts of eastern Idaho.

Officials in Bingham, Bonneville, Fremont, Madison and Power counties requested the emergency access because of drought and crop damage. The USDA's Farm Service Agency in Idaho announced Monday that the requests were approved.

The emergency haying is allowed through the end of August, and participants must leave at least half of each field unhayed for wildlife. The hay can't be sold.

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Water
7:02 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Farmers Urge EPA To 'Ditch' Proposed Clean Water Act Revisions

Angela Bailey farms decorative trees and shrubs near Gresham, Oregon.

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 11:17 pm

Water is a common and often contentious issue in the West. But now, farmers across the country are also riled up because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to revise the 1972 Clean Water Act.

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Environment
10:47 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Updated 'Shade Rule' Aims To Protect Idaho Fish Habitat

Credit Oregon Department of Forestry / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho has long restricted cutting down trees along stream banks as a way to keep water cool for trout and a salmon. On July 1, an updated version of the so-called shade rule goes into effect.   

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Event
1:51 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Scalia To Speak At Idaho Water Conference

Justice Scalia at a book signing in San Francisco.
Credit Shawn / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will visit Boise in August to give the keynote speech at a conference marking the end of a nearly 30-year water adjudication process.

The University of Idaho announced the upcoming event is sponsored by the Idaho Supreme Court, the Kempthorne Institute, and U of I’s College of Law.

Scalia is speaking at a conference celebrating the end of the Snake River Basin Adjudication process which negotiated water rights in Idaho. That adjudication started in 1987.

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Environment
1:24 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Idaho Takes Over Water Pollution Permits

Idaho is starting the process of taking over wastewater permitting from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, under a law that quietly cleared the Idaho Legislature earlier this year.

Water
9:59 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Snake River Water Flows Increased To Help Fish

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the amount of water flowing in the Snake River in an effort to help native fish between Palisades Reservoir and Shoshone Falls.

Michael Beus with the Bureau of Reclamation in Heyburn, Idaho told The Times-News that the faster, deeper flow will give native cutthroat trout an advantage over invasive rainbow trout.

The bureau has been increasing flows every year since 2004.

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Environment
9:50 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Feds To Spend $38 Million On North Idaho River Cleanup

The Coeur d'Alene River Basin is one of the country's largest Superfund sites.
Credit Threefatcats / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials plan to spend $38 million in northern Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin this summer cleaning up toxic pollution left from a century worth of mining in the region.

The Environmental Protection Agency tells the Coeur d'Alene Press that up to 125 residential and commercial properties will be cleaned up.

Agency spokesman Ed Moreen says that more than 17 miles of paved roads in eight upper basin communities will be repaired or replaced.

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Fish
9:56 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon Make A Comeback

Credit Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

The Snake River's fall chinook salmon are making a comeback.

There were just 78 wild chinook salmon counted at the Lower Granite Dam in 1990. Last year, more than 20,000 of the wild salmon were counted, and 75,846 wild and hatchery-born fall chinook total.

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