Idaho DEQ Wants to Take Full Control of Pollution Discharge Permitting 

click to enlarge ZACH HAGADONE
  • Zach Hagadone

It's called the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and, if approved, it would allow the Gem State to break free of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage what does and doesn't go into Idaho waterways.

Idaho is one of only four states where the EPA manages pollution discharge—the others are New Mexico, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

If the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has its ways, the state would manage point sources that discharge pollutants into its rivers, lakes and streams.

The Idaho DEQ submitted a 325-page program description, attached to an 80-page memorandum of agreement to the EPA earlier this week. The big piece of the puzzle will need to come from the Idaho Legislature, which will have to find a way to add a projected $3 million to the DEQ budget—the amount forecast to run the IPDES with about 29 additional personnel.

If approved, Idaho would take the reins of permitting for a number of wastewater sources, including storm water (which picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease); run-off from concentrated animal feeding operations (which picks up animal waste); and discharge from aquaculture operations, such as freshwater fish. 

No matter what agency handles permitting, the Idaho Conservation League said it will be as vigilant as ever.

"I think some in the Legislature think that once the state gets control of this, it changes radically and organizations such as my own will no longer be able to participate in the development of permits and the enforcement of permits," ICL Program Director Justin Hayes told the Associated Press. "They're wrong about that."
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