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EPA Adds Lower Boise River and Hem Creek to Idaho’s List of Impaired Waters

Release Date: 10/15/2009
Contact Information: James Werntz, EPA’s Director of Idaho Ops Office, (208) 378-5746,; Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,

(Boise, Idaho – October 15, 2009) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added the Lower Boise River and Hem Creek to the State of Idaho’s List of Impaired Waters. Both of these waters have been on the state’s list in prior years until the State removed these two waters in 2008.

According to Jim Werntz, Director of EPA’s Idaho State Office in Boise, Idaho’s impaired waters list helps focus attention and limited resources to improve and protect water quality.

“Idaho’s waters deserve protection,” said EPA’s Werntz. “Being listed means that the Lower Boise River and Hem Creek will get the necessary help they need to get cleaned up and provide healthy aquatic habitat. Improved water quality also means more fishing, swimming and other recreational opportunities for families.”

The Boise River is a high quality, multiple use water body. EPA added the lower portion of the Boise River, from Indian Creek to the mouth of the river, where the impacts from cumulative nutrient inputs are greatest.

EPA analyzed multiple lines of evidence including levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, pH, and biological data to conclude that the downstream reach of Boise River is impaired for excess nutrients.

Hem Creek is in the Upper North Fork Clearwater River sub-basin. It is being listed for exceedences of the salmonid spawning temperature criteria applicable to cutthroat trout. Hem Creek has been impacted from forestry that has reduced shade to the lower reaches of the Creek.

In accordance with Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, states must identify all polluted water bodies and submit this list to EPA every two years. These are "water quality limited" estuaries, lakes, and streams that fall short of state surface water quality standards. These standards are the criteria to ensure our waters support the beneficial uses we all enjoy, from fishing, swimming, boating, and drinking to industrial and agricultural purposes, and fish habitat.

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