county water quality
Legislation to be drafted
for county commission
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
A new committee was formed this
week to compose Blaine County water quality legislation that could help
ensure that the county’s water stays in good shape.
Blaine County Commissioner Sarah
Michael, who chaired the committee meeting on Tuesday, March 16, said
the initial meeting was "very productive, with a good exchange of
ideas." The meeting attracted 11 initial participants.
Anglers like Devan Gernet of
Austin, Texas, are among the Wood River Valley’s beneficiaries of
the region’s relatively clean water. Legislation being drafted by a
citizen committee this spring could help ensure continued water quality
for municipal, well and river water users. Express photo by David N.
The so-called Blaine County
Citizens Drinking Water Committee is designed to gain input from local
residents about a recently completed Drinking Water Protection Plan. The
pal completed in February following a three-year effort.
"In Blaine County, our drinking
water is excellent," Michael said, but she added that it is time to
develop a plan to ensure continued quality. "Get it good, keep it good,"
Michael added that she plans two
or three additional meetings before introducing draft legislation to her
fellow county commissioners. The committee’s next meeting will be 6 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6 at the Blaine County Courthouse.
Participants at this week’s
meeting generally agreed that Blaine County’s current water quality
protections are not strong enough. The current plan includes voluntary
actions and regulatory approaches, Michael said.
"But there is nothing in the plan
that really changes existing practices so that Blaine County’s water
receives the highest level of protection," Michael said.
One of the areas highlighted
Tuesday was that better controls are needed to prevent the contamination
of drinking water with irrigation water.
Drinking water well drilling
requirements could also be strengthened, participants generally agreed.
"There is a large potential for
aquifer cross-contamination if drinking water wells are not encased to
50 feet or more," Michael said. "A simple and cost-effective solution
would be for Blaine County to request that the Idaho Department of Water
Resources designates Blaine County as an "area of drilling concern."
Once such and area is designated,
all new wells would be installed to higher standards that reduce the
potential for cross contamination.
The group also agreed that much
more needs to be done to get local residents involved in drinking water
"The goal is that by May, that
there be a recommendation and a plan to be adopted by October 1, 2004,"