EPA awards Idaho Department of Environmental Quality nearly $2 million to protect water quality statewide
EPA partners with Idaho to protect and restore watersheds, streams and groundwater
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1,943,000 to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ), giving local water quality improvement projects across the state a welcome funding boost where it’s needed most.
“These grants help local communities restore vital streams and habitat across Idaho. Successful projects often serve as the cornerstone of protecting and improving local water quality,” said Chris Hladick, EPA’s regional administrator in Seattle.
Tim Wendland, loan program manager for IDEQ’s water quality division in Boise agrees.
“The Clean Water Act section 319 grant program is key to helping mitigate nonpoint sources, which we know are the largest water pollution contributors,” said Wendland.
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.
The 319 grants received by Idaho complement the $23.8 million Idaho received from EPA for statewide water quality protection projects in 2018.
Here are some examples of successful EPA-funded projects featured in Idaho’s 2018 Performance and Progress Report:
- Cove Streambank Restoration – (Southeast Idaho) Project Goal: to reduce the sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen load in the main stem of the Bear River. To obtain this goal and keep livestock from watering in the river, the Soil and Water Conservation District will install an off-stream watering system on land upslope of the Bear River. Troughs will be placed in select areas so livestock can continue to use the pasture. A stretch of eroding streambank on the Bear River will be stabilized and a small, incised tributary will be connected to its floodplain.
- Teton Creek Restoration Project - (Southeast Idaho) Project Goal: to improve water quality in Teton Creek and Teton River by reducing sediment input by 170 tons per year and restoring the beneficial uses of cold-water aquatic life and salmonid spawning. The goal will be reached by implementing bioengineering techniques to stabilize approximately 800 feet of stream channel and 670 feet of eroding banks. Actions will also be taken to restore the creek to its appropriate channel dimensions, install three rock/riffle grade-control structures, improve fish habitat, plant native vegetation along the bank, and reestablish a functional aquatic and riparian ecosystem.
- Middle Eighteen Mile Creek Habitat Improvement – (Northcentral Idaho) Project Goal: to reduce the sediment load and water temperature and improve flow in the creek. Middle Eighteen Mile Creek does not support its designated beneficial uses of cold-water aquatic life and salmonid spawning due to flow alterations, sedimentation/siltation, and water temperature. This project is part of the Lemhi River sub basin total maximum daily load effort and the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed Program’s effort to improve flow.
For more detailed information on these and other Idaho local water quality improvement projects, call Dave Pisarski at Idaho Department of Environmental Quality at (208) 373-0464 or email Dave.Pisarski@deq.idaho.gov.
Funding for these projects is one part of EPA’s overall effort to ensure that America’s waters are clean and safe. This year, EPA is distributing more than $165 million in section 319 grants to states, territories, and tribes to reduce nonpoint runoff in urban and rural settings, including efforts to reduce excess nutrients that can enter our waters and cause public health and environmental challenges. Over the last two years, states have restored over 80 waters and reduced over 17 million pounds of nitrogen, nearly 4 million pounds of phosphorus, and 3.5 million tons of excess sediment through section 319 projects.
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
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