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Commentaries and editorials

Feds Approve Pollutant Limits
on 200 Miles of River

by Associated Press, September 14, 2004

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved limits on the amount of pollutants released into the Snake River where it flows along the Oregon border.

The stretch runs about 200 miles from Adrian, Ore., to where the Snake River meets the Salmon River. It does not meet water quality standards for temperature, nutrients such as fertilizers, sediments and a number of pesticides.

Limits are called "total maximum daily loads," or the maximum amount of the contaminants the river can safely take in each day. The limits call for significant reductions in phosphorus and lower water temperatures in some areas.

The Clean Water Act requires the states to restore and maintain the water quality in their rivers. They identify those that do not meet standards and prioritize their cleanups.

"The TMDL process was long, tedious, and sometimes contentious," said Marti Bridges, TMDL program manager for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

"Idaho DEQ looks forward to working with stakeholders throughout this basin in the years to come, effecting water quality improvements that will enhance the natural environment and help maintain the economic vitality of local communities," she said.

Many of the reductions will be tied to reducing the amount of silt pouring in from tributaries including the Boise, Payette and Weiser rivers.

The daily limits were developed to mesh with the states' schedules and to run concurrently with the relicensing of Idaho Power Co.'s three hydroelectric dams in Hells Canyon.

The states have worked for more than two years to identify pollutant levels and held more than 40 meetings with the public and stakeholders. A bi-state public advisory team met monthly from December 2001 through May 2002.

The states also held comment periods before submitting a TMDL draft to the EPA in July 2003.

Associated Press
Feds Approve Pollutant Limits on 200 Miles of River, September 14, 2004

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