hatrick / Flickr

United Water Idaho plans to flush its pipes, starting next week.  Workers will flush water through more than 1,200 miles of water mains in and around Boise. 

Spokesman Mark Snider says it happens every year. “The purpose is to scour out the water mains, remove any iron or manganese that may have deposited in the mains over the winter months,” says Snider.  “It’s just a way to clear out the system and ensure that during our peak demand in the Spring and Summer, there’s no build-up in the pipes.”

Idaho Adopts New State Water Plan

Mar 8, 2013
Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Idaho has a new water plan -- the first update since 1996 to the state’s principles for how water in streams, lakes and aquifers should be divided among users and how it should be conserved for fish and wildlife. The new plan goes into effect Friday.  But not everyone is happy about it.

The Idaho Water Plan doesn’t have the force of law, but it does offer some guidance over state policy when it comes to water.

Under state law, the proposed plan automatically took effect because it’s been 60 days since it was first introduced to the Legislature and no changes were made.

For Northwest Brewers, 'It's (Still) The Water'

Feb 22, 2013
Amelia Templeton / EarthFix

Across the Northwest, home brewers and microbreweries enjoy the best local ingredients. Hops from the Willamette Valley. Barley from Washington. But there’s one ingredient that is often overlooked: the water. 

Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Nearly halfway through winter, Idaho’s farmers and ranchers will soon make plans for their planting season. The latest snow survey by the Natural Resources Conservation Service could give them reasons to be optimistic. Hydrologist Ron Abramovich says that after one of the driest years on record, Idaho’s snowpack is off to a great start.

Northwest Cities And Towns Still Struggle To Control Sewage Plant Pollution

Oct 2, 2012
Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

A major goal of the 1972 Clean Water Act was to stop cities and towns from discharging raw sewage. The federal government gave communities billion of dollars to build wastewater treatment plants. But those early grants are gone and those plants have aged.


When he was a kid, Mark Schmidt would fish for steelhead and salmon on the Molalla river. He’s stay with a friend in a little cabin on the banks.

“If we could so much as hear the raindrops on the shingles in the night, we were aware that we would not be fishing in the morning.”

The Molalla flows from the west slope of the Oregon Cascades. About half watershed is private forest land. Schmidt says in the 60s, the area was being heavily logged. When it rained the logging operations sent sediment pouring down the river.

“It kind of looked like orange wet cement.”

Katie Campbell

This fall marks the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act – a piece of legislation that changed the way water  in this country is regulated and protected.

Pollution was supposed to be curtailed so that fish from all the waters in America would be safe for people to eat. 40 years later, though, many waterways still bear fish too tainted to consume safely.

Poll Finds Water Quality A Top Concern In Northwest

Jul 18, 2012
Katie Campbell

A new public opinion poll finds that water quality ranks as Northwesterners’ top environmental concern.

DHM Research asked 1,200 residents in Washington, Idaho and Oregon about their environmental concerns. Sixty percent said they worried about drinking water, and 54 percent said they were concerned about local lakes, rivers and streams. That result tracks with previous polls.

People said they were happy, overall, with the water that comes out of their tap.

Clean Water: The Next Act - Seattle's Duwamish River

Jul 18, 2012

This fall marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and over the next few month's EarthFix and Investigate West will be reporting on the Northwest's water. This ongoing special report begins with Seattle’s Duwamish River. 

It's been the industrial heart of the city for a century. It’s been straightened, filled and diked. During World War II thousands of airplanes were built there. Today cargo from around the world arrives in massive container ships, lining the mouth of the river. Industrial facilities dot its banks.

Adonofrio / Flickr Creative Commons

Warning signs line the beach of Robie Creek off Lucky Peak Reservoir after recent testing showed E. Coli in the water earlier this month. Lauri Monnot, Watershed Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, says no one has a confirmed case of the illness.

Robie Creek has a history of E. Coli.  Monnot says the water was contaminated in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and now 2012.  The DEQ performed a source assessment last year, but all leads dead-ended. 

For Sale Coldwell Banker House Sold
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

As many as 80 residents of a west Boise neighborhood got sick over Memorial Day weekend. Turns out a nasty bacteria got into the drinking water. Boise’s United Water says it did everything in its power to fix the problem, but  some in the neighborhood say the company could have done more.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Monday night’s storm blew down trees and power lines, knocking out electricity around southern Idaho.  What was inconvenient for some, turned critical for Twin Falls. The city lost power to the four pumps that supply most of the area’s water and overnight, Twin Falls declared a state of emergency.

Monday afternoon, the power came back on, and the pumps are now working.  Josh Palmer is a public information officer for Twin Falls. He says those pumps pull water from the Blue Lakes Reservoir and that water is low.

City of Twin Falls

Updated 3:00 PM Tuesday:  The city of Twin Falls is allowing commercial users, including restaurants, to turn their water on again.  But if water levels go too low, restrictions could go back into effect. 

The city is also working with five major industrial waters users to set an individual timeline for their operations to start again. These are mainly food processing and dairy companies. 

According to city spokesman Josh Palmer it might take until Thursday for the water system to return to normal.

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A Water Plan For Fish, Families And Farmers

May 17, 2012
Courtney Flatt

Boise gets a visit tonight from a man who’s helped negotiate an ambitious plan to restore the Yakima River Basin in central Washington.  Michael Garrity will speak at an event that starts at 5:45 at Bardenay.  Courtney Flatt reports on the plan that’s finding a way to restore the basin, while making sure fish, farmers and communities have enough water.  

Turn on your faucet, and you’re pretty much guaranteed water will pour out. But managing the water that’s running down our mountainsides and into our streams is not that simple, especially in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

Spring Weather Makes For Tricky River Management

May 9, 2012
Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Warmer temperatures this week have kept river levels high in Idaho as mountain snow melts. It’s been a challenging year for those who manage the state’s river systems. That’s because the spring runoff happened a month earlier than last year. It's brought flooding along the Boise River and raises questions about water availability next year. Just ask Ron Abramovich. He's a hydrologist and water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Boise.