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Idaho Water Quality Standards Finalized

Release Date: 7/22/1997
Contact Information: Lisa Macchio
(206) 553-1834 or 1-800-424-4372

July 22, 1997 - - - - - - - - - - 97-48

A set of modifications and additions to Idaho water quality standards today were signed as a final rule in Washington, D.C., by Carol Browner, the national administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Included in the rule are provisions intended to provide protection for Idaho's bull trout in areas where they spawn and in those sections of water boldies where juveniles are reared.  In those areas, EPA has set a standard of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) as the water temperature that is not to be exceeded during the months of June through September.

That standard applies only to spawning and rearing areas, and --  unlike the standard as EPA proposed it in April -- it does not apply to larger water bodies or lowland segments of rivers or streams that are home to adult bull trout, nor does it pertain to migratory corridors used by the fish.

In developing the standard, EPA relied on information received from members of the public who commented on the standards when they were proposed, and consulted closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Not only did EPA scale down its proposed bull trout standard, but the agency also narrowed the scope of its entire package of proposed additions and modifications.  EPA was able to do this because, after EPA published its proposals, Idaho on its own successfully addressed the majority of issues in the EPA package.  

Today's signing brings to a close a process that began in April with the publication of the additions and modifications as proposals by EPA.  Public comment was solicited by EPA, and two public hearings were held in Boise.  About 80 persons attended the hearings.  A total of 70 written comments were submitted to EPA.

Water quality standards are fundamental elements of national efforts to control water pollution.  The standards are tailored to each water body, or to segments of rivers and streams, to reflect the uses of the water -- whether for recreational or commercial fishing, for swimming or other recreational purposes, or as a natural resource, such as habitat for salmon or other species of fish and aquatic life.

EPA proposed the modifications and additions because of an order issued in February by U.S. District Court Judge William L. Dwyer.  In a case brought against EPA by the Idaho Conservation League and the Idaho Sporting Congress, Dwyer agreed that EPA was taking too long to correct certain aspects of state water quality standards that EPA earlier had disapproved because they had not met the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  Dwyer told EPA it had until today to get the standards on the books.

Persons interested in obtaining copies of the final additions and modifications are being asked to call EPA's regional Public Information Center in Seattle.  Callers from any point in Idaho, Oregon, Washington or Alaska can dial the center  toll-free on (800) 424-4372.  From other places, the number to call is (206) 553-1200.