Aquifer Protection Working Group Information Meeting:
Information Session On Reclassification to a Sensitive Aquifer
June 20, 2000, City of Chubbuck
Milton Slugowski, Heinz Frozen Food; Dale Reavis, Simplot; Ward Wolleson, Simplot; Rob Hartman, FMC; James Rice, Astaris; Jenni Light, City of Pocatello; Steve Smart, City of Chubbuck; Kent Kunz, State Rep.; Evan Frasure, State Sen.; Carol Gunter, citizen; Bonnie Shaw, citizen; Gretchen Vanek, citizen; Audrey Cole, DEQ; Tom Mullican, DEQ; Jim DiSanza (Facilitator); Roger Chase, State Rep. (co-chair); John Welhan, IGS (co-chair)
Meeting commenced at 1:00 pm. Several handouts were provided.
Roger Chase introduced himself and the Sensitive Aquifer concept. He said nothing has ever been done like this in Idaho before. One advantage is that getting local agencies working together through this state level designation equalizes the playing field. Another is that protection at the state level doesnt change with every council change. Prevention is preferred, rather than intervention when a situation becomes critical. Our Portneuf Valley aquifer is limited.
State and local agencies, residents, and commercial businesses were represented, including Astaris (FMC), Simplot, and Heinz.
Jim DiSanza introduced the agenda, which was provided by handout, and invited attendees to point out any possible flaws with this plan. This would then be followed by discussion how we should proceed, if desirable.
presented by John Welhan:
1. Why the Working Group Was Formed
2. Cost of Cleanup vs. Prevention - of a $20 million estimated total in ten years, $5 million was paid by local taxpayers.
3. Map presented showing landscape with aquifer, showing water flow, and outlining imaginary boundary of the local aquifer.
4. Existing and Anticipated Future Problems:
Salt encroachment, septic effluent contamination, fuel and haz/mat storage and
containment, chlorinated solvent contamination
5. A relief map of the valley marked with black triangles and red dots representing past contamination sites and points of concern.
6. Map of Nitrate - N in the Southern Aquifer from a two-year study with Fort Hall cooperation.
7. Sketch with shaded areas representing distributions of chlorides and nitrates in valley. Illustrates and correlates locations where these are entering aquifer and pathways of flow.
8. Graph of 1994 study mapping chloride levels, which shows an upward trend in concentration.
9. Three graphs tracking nitrate concentration trends from Mountain View Terrace, Post Falls, and Coeur dAlene. John conceded that older measurements are less solid because of older methods of sampling and handling, however they do illustrate trends. He said we have to start somewhere.
10. Proposed Focus Areas for Drinking Water Protection:
- on-site urban stormwater disposal
- hazardous materials handling, storage, and waste management
- septic sewage disposal in unincorporated areas
11. The Idaho Groundwater Quality Rule is a mechanism designed to enhance local control
- standardized, cross-jurisdictional management
- a mechanism for local control
- recategorization = enhanced protection
- locally defined, crafted, enforced measures
- for defined areas - smaller rather than larger
- flexibility for future: a continuing, evolving process
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
Jim Rice asked if the Portneuf is a losing stream; John W. replied it is not, in most of the southern Portneuf valley
Tom Mullican recommended that everyone read the whole Rule, which is on the web or the copy provided today. The Rule applies to all activities which could degrade water quality, provides for three categories of aquifer. It defines minimum standards, but allows stricter regulation in vulnerable areas like ours. The Rule is flexible whether the aquifer is recategorized as sensitive or not, social and economic considerations are allowed
Roger Chase said the public educational curve is better with categorization, since it raises awareness.
Jenny Light asked about chloride interaction. John Welhan said chloride is just a surrogate for nitrate testing. It is getting into the aquifer and is an indicator of surface water encroachment.
Whom do you petition? And how? Tom Mullican described some of the geological and geographical information that should be included, and the legislative process.
AREAS OF CONCERN AND RESISTANCE
The following items were offered and discussed by the group:
Best management practices vs. Best available practices? Small differences in definition, big differences in costs.
Biggest fear is "best available technology" due to potential cost.
Narrative standards are included in the Rule, but community dialogue must occur up front. It becomes a temporary rule which is either made permanent or done away with by the legislature.
Group discussion followed on flexibility and amending the rule.
Simplot and Astaris (FMC) areas need not be incorporated in the plan.
Heinz representative said they are only concerned about how they would have to deal with their stormwater.
Pocatello has been playing with ideas and requirements to see what works for runoff such as: treatment prior to entry, oil separators, dirt filtration, landscaping, etc.
For ten years Coeur dAlene has been using grassy swales, which may not be best available technology, but qualifies as a best management practice, and is doing well.
Newly required items are not being installed, or not correctly, which is difficult to deal with.
Since we seem to be on a path to recategoriztion, does the DEQ believe its necessary to designate to protect water quality?
DEQ representative said they wont take the step if its not warranted, though it is hard to say if it is yet, because we are just starting this process.
Is this aquifer contaminated enough that we dont have the tools already to handle it?
The degradation at the Highway Pond is appalling.
Our aquifer is very close to the surface in places like this.
We are not adequately using the rules that are in place. Feel that the public views this as political maneuvering rather than science or a serious issue.
Several agreed that "best available practices" would scare off new businesses.
We already have a TCE plume, but are not any closer to dealing with it.
Restrictions could eliminate putting partially contaminated water back into aquifer, even if its better than what is in there.
It feels like an unfunded mandate. Whos going to pay for it?
Concerned whether or not we can actually target sources after we do this-
We have some obvious sources located, but nitrates are tough to track down.
This dialogue has to go in parallel with other decisions such as ordinances.
Who wrote the wording and mostly what was the subsequent intent of the rule? Does "best available" always mean most expensive?
Didnt see designation as a method that will make the contamination trend significantly decline. Current measures enough if carried out.
"Sensitive Aquifer" is just a catch phrase, nothing will happen if we dont take the next step in using the Rule.
We didnt seem to reach a consensus, but accomplished the major goal of gathering opinions. Attendees were encouraged to continue participation and to join the group effort to protect our aquifer.
Meeting adjourned at 2:58 pm.