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Report: Groundwater quality remains poor in southern Idaho

MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho (KIFI) - The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) has expressed a great concern for the water quality for the Magic Valley. This area includes more than 300,000 citizens who use the Eastern Snake Plain aquifer.

This concern comes off of the ICL releasing their most recent annual groundwater report. In the report, it states the springs that feed off the Eastern Snake Plain aquifer have increased their phosphorus concentrations for the third straight year in a row. There has been growing evidence in how the consumption of this phosphorus will deteriorate your overall health and has even been linking to certain types of cancers.

These water quality conditions are getting worse everywhere within Idaho. The study does, though, find the worst conditions in particular do happen in the Magic Valley including Twin Falls, Minidoka and Cassia counties. This condition has worsened to the point of where the ICL is saying that the current water quality "may not adequately protect the public from nitrate-related health conditions."

ICL’s key findings since the last groundwater report in 2020:

  • For the third straight year, agencies detected elevated total phosphorus concentrations at a number of springs fed by the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, continuing a troubling trend of worsening water quality. 
  • County-level analysis of groundwater data for the Magic Valley reveals that the highest and most harmful nitrate concentrations are typically found in Twin Falls, Cassia, and Minidoka counties.
  • A growing body of evidence indicates that long-term ingestion of nitrate in drinking water increases the risk of a myriad of adverse health effects, particularly colorectal cancer. This increased risk is tied to nitrate levels below regulatory limits, suggesting that the current drinking water standard likely does not adequately protect the public from nitrate-related health conditions. 
  • 19% of public water systems in the Magic Valley have average nitrate concentrations >5 mg/L based on samples collected in the last five years, a concern given the potential health effects of nitrate in drinking water.

You can view the full report HERE.

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Evan Thomason

Evan is the weekend meteorologist and reporter.

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