BOISE (CN) – Idaho is not implementing the Clean Water Act and the federal government is letting it get away it, the Idaho Conservation League claims in Federal Court. The Boise-based Idaho Conservation League says that since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has never instituted an antidegradation policy for water quality standards, though the policy was codified into the Act in 1987.
The Department of Environmental Quality has a history of neglecting its duties to protect state waters under the Act, the conservation league claims. Its lawsuit details a timeline of missed deadlines, inadequate proposals and failures to act on the part of both the state and federal agencies.
This led the group to sue three times since 1991. In this, its fourth lawsuit on the subject, the Conservation League challenges water quality standards modified by the state agency in 1994 and partially approved by the EPA in 1996. The rules lack an implementation plan, or even discussion of one, the group says.
Merely a quarter of Idaho rivers and streams meet minimum water quality standards, while 37 percent of the state’s water bodies are not even being monitored, the group claims, citing a report by the offending state agency.
The antidegradation policy is intended to preserve public water supplies, fish and wildlife, and recreational and industrial uses, among other things.
The Idaho Conservation League, represented by Todd Tucci of Advocates for the West, seeks injunctive relief protecting Idaho’s 160,000 miles of rivers and streams, and more than 100 lakes and reservoirs.