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News Releases from Region 10

EPA awards Idaho Department of Environmental Quality nearly $2 million to protect water quality

08/31/2017
Contact Information: 
Mark A. MacIntyre (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)
206-553-7302

Seattle, WA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1,987,000 to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to help protect human health and the environment through a Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act (Section 319) cooperative agreement. This grant is given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater in order to meet and maintain water quality standards.

"Providing funds directly to Idaho is an excellent example of EPA partnering with states to help address their unique and critical environmental challenges," said EPA Administrator Pruitt. "EPA is making investments like this grant to help empower states who know best how to protect resources, and grow their economy while solving real environmental problems in local communities."

Here are three examples from Idaho’s 2017 project list:

1.Teton County Soil Heath Initiative: Will apply cover crop and conservation tillage methods to 100 acres of farmland and compare results (yield) to 100 acres of conventionally farmed plots. Landowners will learn about the benefits of cover crops, conservation tillage and other ways to improve soil health and maximize soil moisture retention.  Among the goals of the project: reduce soil erosion, enhance surface water quality and protect drinking water sources. ($74,366 EPA Grant)

2. Potlatch River Watershed Management: This project is the 5th year of a 5-year plan to address water quality issues identified in the TMDL and Sub-Basin Assessment. Earlier efforts included forest wetland/meadow restoration, enhancing floodplain connectivity, forest road rocking and obliteration, livestock exclusion and riparian restoration, and others. This final phase continues these efforts on other unaddressed segments of the River. ($209,998 EPA Grant)

3. Lower Payette River TMDL Implementation: This project has invested, to date, more than $780,000 in water quality improvements, over the past 5 years, on over 1,000 acres of farmland along the Lower Payette River. The project goal:  to reduce sediment loading over time by over 1,000 tons. For this latest phase, landowners are improving their irrigation systems to reduce runoff from crop, fields and pastures, keeping soil out of the river and on the land, where it belongs. ($163,589 EPA Grant)

Nonpoint sources of pollution continue to be recognized as the nation's largest remaining cause of surface water quality impairments. Nonpoint source pollutants causing the majority of impairments to Idaho’s lakes, rivers and streams are pathogens, sediment, and nutrients.

“This EPA grant allows our 319 program to continue to provide financial assistance for projects that prevent, reduce, or eliminate nonpoint source pollution in Idaho’s surface water and ground water,” Tim Wendland, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality loan program manager says. “It plays a key role in helping us protect Idaho’s water quality.”

Nonpoint source pollution encompasses a wide range of sources that are not always subject to federal or state regulation. These sources include agricultural runoff, unpermitted urban runoff, abandoned mine drainage, failing onsite disposal systems, and pollution caused by changes to natural stream channels. All participation by private land owners is voluntary under this grant program.

Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987, establishing a national program to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. Through Section 319, the EPA provides states, territories, and tribes with guidance and grant funding to implement their nonpoint source programs and to support local watershed projects to improve water quality. Collectively this work has restored over 6,000 miles of streams and over 164,000 acres of lakes since 2006. Hundreds of additional projects are underway across the country.

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For more about EPA’s Non-Point Pollution Grant Program:  https://www.epa.gov/nps/319-grant-program-states-and-territories

For more about Idaho’s Non-Point program:   https://www.deq.idaho.gov/water-quality/surface-water/nonpoint-source-pollution.aspx