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How Growth And Recreation Affects Payette Lake, McCall's Drinking Water Source

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Gustavo Sagrero
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Boise State Public Radio
Payette Lake is the well-used and much loved natural feature at the heart of McCall. Besides being a place boaters enjoy in the summer, it's also the source of water for everyone who lives in town. With increased boat use and exponential growth, city officials and scientists are closely monitoring 300-foot deep lake for changes.

On a summer day in July, not many things can beat a visit to Payette Lake in McCall.

Idaho Matters visits the lake for a conversation with three people who pay close attention to the body of water. Nathan Stewart is the Director of Public Works and Sabrina Sims is the Water Systems Manager with the City of McCall, which uses the lake for everything from drinking water to fire protection.

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Gustavo Sagrero
Boise State Public Radio journalists learn about the issues facing Payette Lake on the dock of the McCall Outdoor Science School from the University of Idaho. Left to right: Idaho Matters senior producer Frankie Barnhill, Morning Edition host George Prentice, University of Idaho graduate student Heather Crawford, McCall Water Systems Manager Sabrina Sims, McCall Public Works Director Nathan Stewart.

We also talk with University of Idaho graduate student Heather Crawford who is researching how waves affect shoreline erosion on Payette Lake.

Big thanks to the University of Idaho's McCall Outdoor Science School for hosting us on their dock.

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Gustavo Sagrero
University of Idaho graduate student Heather Crawford demonstrates how she uses a terrestrial laser scanner to test for erosion that may be occurring on the Payette Lake's shoreline. Erosion can cause disruptions to water quality over time. Crawford is from McCall and hopes to return to her hometown to work in water quality after graduating in May 2022.

Frankie Barnhill is the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast. She's always interested in hearing surprising and enlightening stories about life in the West. Have an idea for Idaho Matters? Drop her a line!
George Prentice has been honored for his decades-long career in broadcast and print journalism. As news editor of Boise Weekly, he won multiple awards for his investigative reporting and took home top prizes in the fields of crime/courts, environmental, health, religion and feature reporting.