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Indiana struggles to reverse its high early death rate, a Texas sheriff recommends criminal charges in DeSantis' migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard, and Congress is urged to take swift action to pass the Rail Safety Act of 2023.

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Former Vice President Mike Pence files to run for President, FBI Director Chris Wray is the subject of new hearings, and a Muslim rights group is suing a Michigan sheriff for discriminatory policies.

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Oregon may expand food stamp eligibility to some undocumented households, rural areas have a new method of accessing money for roads and bridges, and Tennessee's new online tool helps keep track of cemetery locations.

Report: ID Sewage Treatment Plants Have Waste Issue of Their Own

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Wednesday, September 14, 2022   

Pollution is a major problem for wastewater facilities in Idaho.

The Idaho Conservation League's fifth annual report on discharges from sewage treatment plants finds three-quarters violated Clean Water Act standards between 2019 and 2021.

However, those violations aren't equally distributed: just 10 facilities were responsible for more than half of them.

Will Tiedemann, conservation associate for the Idaho Conservation League, said the facilities are in rural towns, which have the fewest resources.

"There's less money, there's less support and funds to be able to adequately maintain and equip these treatment plants to do the work they need to do," Tiedemann explained. "That can be a big challenge."

Pollutants such as ammonia and E. coli were the most common. Tiedemann pointed out the violations pose a potential threat to human and wildlife health. Despite the large number of infractions, the report mentioned there were 28 cities and towns with no violations, and seven improved over the three-year period.

Tiedemann noted Idaho has received funds from coronavirus aid passed by Congress, which could help towns facing issues with their wastewater treatment plants. However, some rural communities could be pushed to the bottom of the list because of their small population size.

Tiedemann emphasized members of small communities could also have greater influence on their leaders.

"Maybe the converse point of being a small town is that every citizen's voice matters just that much more when they are these smaller towns," Tiedemann remarked. "Speaking to your local officials - speaking to your mayors, any kind of city boards, county commissioners, things like that - maybe can have a bigger effect."

He added the report comes at an interesting time, as Idaho takes over Clean Water Act enforcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He stressed the public has an opportunity to help the state develop what compliance with the act will look like.

Disclosure: The Idaho Conservation League contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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