Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Idaho Nitrate Symposium: Working Together to Protect Idaho’s Drinking Water (Source Water)

Nitrate Symposium - 1114

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.

Symposium Overview

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?

Part 2: What Does the Data Show?

Part 3: What Are the Solutions?

Part 4: Where Do We Go from Here?

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Staff Contacts

Source Water Coordinator
Amy Williams
DEQ State Office
Water Quality Division
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0115

Symposium Planning Team

Special thanks to the Idaho Source Water Protection Collaborative and the Nitrate Symposium planning team.

  • Idaho State Department of Agriculture
  • Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • U of I Water Resource Research Institute
  • Idaho Rural Water Association
  • City of Boise
  • Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
  • USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
  • Cadmus Group, Inc.
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Cassia County Ground Water Advisory Committee
  • Twin Falls County Ground Water Advisory Committee
  • University of Idaho
  • South Central Public Health District
  • Mid-Snake Commission - Middle Snake Regional Water Resource Commission

Related Pages

Nitrate in Ground Water