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Groundwater contamination continues in southern Idaho

Snake Plain Aquifer
Idaho Conservation League

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-An updated report on Magic Valley groundwater finds the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (ESPA) is increasingly impacted by contamination directly traced to human activity across the Snake River Plain.

The report, the third commissioned by the Idaho Conservation League (ICL), found that the industrialized growth of the dairy industry is one of the biggest threats to the resource, which provides drinking water for some 300,000 people.

According to the report, 425,000 dairy cows in the Magic Valley produce as much manure as a city of 12 million people, if that city had no wastewater treatment plans.  It says the nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, animal waste and other sources far exceeds what typical crops can use, leaving the rest to leach into the groundwater.

ICL said one of the continuing trends is worsening water quality due to nitrate concentrations, especially in Twin Falls, Cassia, and Minidoka Counties.   The report suggests current drinking water standards may not adequately protect the public from nitrate-related health conditions.

It recommends a combination of stricter regulation of fertilizer and animal manure application and implementation of best-management-practices to prevent further groundwater contamination.

You can see the full report here.

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