As you probably know, we’ve been rallying support for water quality monitoring for weeks now. We have been calling on Gov. Otter to restore funding to the budget to perform one of the basic functions under the Clean Water Act, something the Governor and legislature have declined to fund for the past two years. Of course, this is exactly what you’d expect of your local grassroots conservation organization.
But guess what — we’re not the only ones. Because of the potential impact that another year of non-monitoring would have on water quality permitting and municipal budgets, a number of Idaho municipalities have joined in the chorus. Boise, Nampa, Hailey, Moscow, Post Falls, Ponderay, and Blaine County are on record as supporting the water quality monitoring line item in the budget. (And we believe that more municipalities will be weighing in soon.)
Agriculture and industry should consider the impacts as well. A third straight year without water quality monitoring data could force EPA to require Idaho dischargers to meet stricter effluent standards in their permits. A number of states have cut back on water quality monitoring during the tight budgets during the economic downturn, but Idaho’s elimination of the entire program for two years is unparalleled.
Idaho DEQ has been outspoken in the need for funding this year, and in an AP article over the weekend, Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little signaled that he understands the concern. But still no definitive word from Gov. Otter. And, of course, any water quality line item would still need approval by the state legislature. So if you haven’t done so already, consider sending your governor and legislators a quick note. All of us in Idaho — individuals, cities and businesses alike — depend on clean water.