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Ground Water Regulations

While there are many federal and state laws water quality and ground water, there is no comprehensive approach for ground water quality protection for Idaho. The Ground Water Quality Protection Act of 1989 created the Ground Water Quality Council and directed them to develop a ground water quality protection plan and a ground water monitoring program for our state. This legislation came about due to increasing concern over the quality of Idaho’s ground water and is the result of coordinated efforts of citizens, industry representatives, and policymakers.

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The Ground Water Quality Plan is intended to protect ground water quality for public use and provide guidance to state agencies, local governments, and citizens to prevent ground water contamination.  

The Ground Water Quality Plan establishes the basis for protecting ground water now and for future generations and preventing contamination whenever possible. The plan also helps agencies develop management programs and regulations and implement ground water quality protection strategies. It is intended to work in conjunction with the Idaho State Water Plan.

Under Idaho Code § 39-120, DEQ is designated as the primary agency to coordinate and administer ground water quality protection programs for Idaho. This rule establishes minimum requirements for protection of ground water quality through standards and an aquifer categorization process. It also serves as a basis for the administration of programs that address ground water quality but does not in and of itself create a permit program. 

DEQ implements the following policies from the “Protection and Prevention” sections of the Idaho Ground Water Quality Plan:

Ground Water Quality Protection. Maintain and protect the existing high quality of the state’s ground water.

Existng and Projected Future Beneficial Uses. Maintain and protect existing and projected future beneficial uses of ground water and prohibit degradation that would impair existing and projected future beneficial uses of ground water and interconnected surface water.

Categorization of Ground Water. Provide differential protection for the state’s ground water resources and establish a ground water categorization system for aquifers or portions of aquifers. The categorization system should be based on the vulnerability of the ground water, existing and projected future beneficial uses, existing quality, and social and economic considerations.

Ground Water Quality Standards. Establish ground water quality standards for biological, radiological, and chemical constituents.

Prevention of Ground Water Contamination. Prevent contamination of ground water from all regulated and nonregulated sources of contamination to the maximum extent practical.

Mining. Protect ground water and allow for the extraction of minerals above and within ground water.

The State of Idaho’s policy is to protect ground water while allowing mining activities to take place (II-C in the Idaho Ground Water Quality Plan). To implement this policy, the “Ground Water Quality Rule” allows mine operators to request that DEQ set points of compliance around the mining area, as opposed to within the mining area, which outline monitoring, sampling, and reporting requirements that meet ground water quality standards. This practice is designed to ensure that mining activities do not adversely impact ground water and interconnected surface waters while enabling extraction to take place.

LocationDeterminationDate
East Smoky Panel Mine DeterminationThis determination is divided into three parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wellsJanuary 7, 2020
Dairy Syncline MineThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The third part speaks to additional POC wells DEQ has determined necessary to provide monitoring information to ensure there is no injury to current or projected future beneficial uses of ground water or violation of surface water standards. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells.December 23, 2019
North Rasmussen Ridge Mine DeterminationThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The third part speaks to additional POC wells DEQ has determined necessary to provide monitoring information to ensure there is no injury to current or projected future beneficial uses of ground water or violation of surface water standards. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells.February 22, 2016
Rasmussen Valley Mine DeterminationThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The third part speaks to additional POC wells DEQ has determined necessary to ensure there is no injury to current or projected future beneficial uses of ground water or violation of surface water standards. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells.August 5, 2016
Caldwell Canyon Mine DeterminationThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The third part speaks to additional POC monitoring wells DEQ has determined necessary to ensure there is no injury to current or projected future beneficial uses of ground water. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells.November 21, 2016
Lanes Creek Mine DeterminationThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with an explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and indicator wells proposed as part of the original application. The third part speaks to additional POC wells DEQ has determined necessary to ensure there is no injury to current or projected future beneficial uses of ground water or violation of surface water standards. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells. Points of Compliance Modification LetterJune 12, 2015
South Rasmussen Mine Point of Compliance DeterminationThis determination is divided into four parts. The introduction gives general background information along with the explanation of state authority for regulating ground water. The second part discusses the POC and baseline wells proposed as part of the original application while the third part speaks to additional POC wells DEQ feels necessary for adequately monitoring the site. The final section discusses the monitoring plan for the ground water wells.October 29, 2014
Blackfoot Bridge Mine Second Modified Point of Compliance DeterminationThis determination incorporates the original June 14, 2011 point-of-compliance determination, December 22, 2011 first modification, and new modifications due to conditions encountered during 2012 well installation and infrastructure construction.March 20, 2013
Idaho Cobalt Project Point of Compliance DeterminationThe Idaho Cobalt Project is a proposed underground cobalt-copper-gold mine located approximately 45 miles west of Salmon in east-central IdahoMarch 22, 2011
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