For whatever the reason — budget priorities, neglect, antipathy to federal mandates — Idaho’s lack of proper attention to clean water is tilting toward disaster.
The Clean Water Act is one of this country’s most important environmental laws. Passed by Congress in 1972, it is responsible for some impressive success stories in the nation’s environmental history. However, in Idaho, the state’s failure to implement some of the basic requirements of the Clean Water Act is putting our waterways at risk.
For two years, Idaho has failed to do the basic water quality monitoring that is the underpinning of the Clean Water Act. Idaho has also failed to put into place the required regulations to keep clean waters from being degraded. Idaho is one of only four states that still refuses to issue water quality permits, leaving it up to the EPA to do so. Idaho hasn’t found a way to properly regulate septic systems or stormwater. Idaho does a poor job of addressing non-point source pollution. And there is very little in the way of enforcement.
Clean water in Idaho is central to a healthy populace and a healthy economy. Clean water, in many respects, is what makes Idaho a great place to live.
But Idaho’s water quality program is dangerously close to violating both the letter and spirit of the Clean Water Act, and without more, the state is perhaps heading for a lawsuit trainwreck. More importantly though, we don’t believe Idaho’s approach to water quality comports what Idahoans want from their government. Tell the governor. Tell your legislators. We need a Clean Water Revival.