Letters from the West

EPA approves Idaho plan for reducing runoff, sediment

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Idaho’s latest plan for reducing pollution from farm fields, industrial sites, forest roads and parking lots.

Idaho is the first state in the region to get approval for its five-year “non-point source” cleanup plan, replacing one written in 1999. Non-point source pollution can harm fish, wildlife, and their habitat; promote excessive weed growth in surface water bodies; and generate odors. It often is sediment and ag runoff that contains manure and fertilizers.

The plan, written by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, presents Idaho's strategy for addressing this type of pollution collaboratively with local, state, and federal partners. It shows the goals and objectives of the state pollution cleanup plan and provides guidance on evaluating and measuring success.

“This plan provides a complete review of state authorities and the roles and responsibilities DEQ and other agencies have in managing (non-point) sources when implementing programs,” said Dave Pisarski, DEQ’s non-point source program coordinator. “It presents greater detail on primary duties of the agencies and informs users on the types of information that may be available to assist with decision making.”

States are required to develop and have the EPA approve management plans for non-point source pollution to be eligible for federal Clean Water Act grants, most of which DEQ passes through to the local level to fund water quality improvement projects in Idaho.