ICL releases wastewater study

Report finds only 1 of 4 facilities in Idaho comply with EPA discharge permits

By Reader Staff

The Idaho Conservation League’s fourth annual study of Idaho’s wastewater treatment plants found more than 75% failed to comply with Clean Water Act permits for harmful bacteria, chemicals, toxic metals and other substances. During the three-year review period (2017 to 2019), there were 1,606 total violations in Idaho. 

ICL logged 16 violations in Sandpoint over the three-year study period, traced to various amounts of oxygen-depleting aquatic effluent pollution, chlorine, E. coli, elevated acidity and sediments. 

According to the report, 10 of 112 facilities were responsible for nearly half of all violations reported statewide — the top 10 were evenly split between communities north and south of Grangeville — while 28 cities or towns reported zero discharge violations during the three-year review period (19 of these also had zero violations in last year’s report). Six facilities improved their compliance with zero violations: American Falls, Fruitland (Payette River), Fruitland (Snake River), Kamiah, McCall and Middleton.

“When sewage plants violate EPA’s water quality standards before discharging into Idaho waters, that pollution threatens the health of all Idahoans, our families, our pets and wildlife,” said Austin Walkins, ICL’s climate campaign coordinator. “We write these reports every year so Idahoans and local leaders who live in areas with facilities that have violations can act to fix these problems. The end of this report has concrete recommendations on ways to engage local leaders and communities to act to improve sewage treatment plants that are violating clean water laws.”

ICL issued its first Wastewater Treatment Plant report in 2017. The annual report compiles and examines discharge permit violations for every Idaho facility and reports on their record of meeting legal standards pursuant to the Clean Water Act.

Read the report at idahoconservation.org/our-work/clean-water-and-air under the “Wastewater Treatment Plants” section.

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