Boise Water Quality Conference Looks Closely At River Health As City Booms

Sep 12, 2018

Lauren Zinsser keeps tabs on the health of the Boise River, from Lucky Peak to Parma.

"Overall one of the things to keep in mind with the Lower Boise River," says the U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, "is that the water quality in it really changes from upstream to downstream."

Zinsser will give an update on the health of the river at the annual Partners for Clean Water Conference Wednesday. Some of the things she focuses on is the phosphorous level in the H2O.

“Over the last 20 years there’s actually [been] a pretty substantial decrease in phosphorus that we’re starting to see in our data and that’s really good news. It’s the result of a lot of different people working in a lot of different ways to improve the river.”

The scientist says too much phosphorus is one of the most common issues in rivers that run through agricultural land, as water from farms runs off into the river. Boise’s water treatment centers are also a significant source.

“[T]hat means you and I and all of the water that we use and flush down the toilet and rinse down the drain everyday winds up with a lot of phosphorus in it.”

Zinsser says for the most part – the Boise River continues to be healthier the farther upstream you go. Algae blooms and too much sediment are more common as the river flows into more farming areas near Parma.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio