Idaho Nitrate Symposium: Working Together to Protect Idaho’s Drinking Water (Source Water)
Ground water supplies 95% of the water used in Idaho households and is the source of drinking water to more than 200 Idaho cities and towns. Although the quality of ground water in Idaho is generally good, several areas in Idaho show elevated levels of nitrate.
- Nearly 7% of the wells sampled in Idaho have nitrate concentrations above the federal drinking water standard of 10 mg/L and 46% have nitrate concentrations above background levels of 2 mg/L.
- Approximately 400,000 Idahoans live in nitrate priority areas where 25% of the wells have nitrate concentrations greater than 5 mg/L.
- Within some nitrate priority areas, 50% or more of the wells have nitrate concentrations greater than or equal to 10mg/L.
This localized degradation negatively impacts water quality and threatens domestic water supplies, aquaculture, and other ground water beneficial uses.
The Idaho Nitrate Symposium was held on December 4, 2014, in Twin Falls, Idaho, to address nitrate degradation in the state and the resulting concerns. The intent of the symposium was to increase awareness of the impacts of nitrate contamination on drinking water sources, recognize potential partners, and identify effective solutions to better protect Idaho’s drinking water sources. Approximately 90 participants attended the one-day event.
The symposium included presentations and discussion on the risks of nitrate in drinking water, how nitrate moves through the soil, and successful examples of nitrate reduction and community involvement.
Part 1: What is the Quality of Idaho's Drinking Water?
- Idaho’s Aquifers: Overview of Idaho’s Aquifer Systems and Southern Idaho’s Unique Hydrogeology (Michael McVay, IDWR)
- Water Quality Concerns: Nitrate Priority Areas and Source Water in Idaho (Toni Mitchell, DEQ)
- Health Effects of Nitrate in Drinking Water: Human and Livestock Concerns from Nitrate (Jeff Fromm, DEQ - tentative)
Part 2: What Does the Data Show?
- Nitrogen in the Soil Study (Amber Moore, UI Cooperative Extension)
Nitrogen in the Soil Study (Dave Bjorneberg, USDA ARS)
Nitrogen in the Soil Study (David Tarkalson, USDA ARS)
- Irrigation Management: How Irrigation Effects Nitrogen Movement: Tools to Measure and Determine Application Rates (Howard Neibling, University of Idaho)
- Nitrogen Movement Below Root Zone: Post-Harvest Nitrate Tests in Yakima (Eric Winiecki, EPA Region 10)
Part 3: What Are the Solutions?
- Sustainable Source Water Protection through Habitat Restoration at Remsen, Iowa (Becky Ohrtman, Iowa Department of Natural Resources)
- Best Management Practices to Improve Ground Water Quality: Implementation Efforts in Idaho (Carolyn Firth, Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission)
- Deep Nitrate Tests in Columbia Basin: How to Get the Community Engaged? (Paul Stoker, Columbia Basin Ground Water Management Area)
Part 4: Where Do We Go from Here?
- Collaborative Learning (Chi Ho Sham, Cadmus Group)