DEQ issues first permit for pollutant discharge elimination to Shoshone City

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SHOSHONE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Department of Environmental Quality recently issued its first permit to Shoshone after taking over this specific permit from the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There's only so much water in the world that it gets reused. What we're putting in the river could be used somewhere else down stream," said John Peyman, the maintenance supervisor for Shoshone.

The DEQ recently issued the first Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, also called IPDES.

"The state of Idaho has gained primacy for the National Pollution Discharge system... Which means we have the authority to act on it," explained Michael Brown, the regional engineering manager for the DEQ.

He said the EPA used to issue those permits, but they ended up with a backlog.

"The groups of Idaho stakeholders have really wanted us to be it, because we're here. We know the areas that we're in, we know about those systems intimately," Brown said.

The permit allows the discharge of treated wastewater from municipalities into the Little Wood River for the next five years.

"We got to make sure the water that we're, it's leaving the plant is treated and safe to go into the river and there are parameters that we have to meet," Peyman said. "We test for E. coli and suspended solids and the permit is going to give us some more testing that we need to do."

This permit is typically renewed every five years.

"Being the first one, it's like, yeah, all eyes are on us. A lot of people are curious as to what the DEQ is going to do, because obviously it's going to affect them also," Peyman said.

Brown said this is the first of many permits that will be issued.

"We're starting with the publicly owned treatment works, this year, we're getting industries and then general permits and the rest to follow and pick up the rest of those permits," Brown said.

Peyman added that the city's drinking water comes from deep wells. The river water is used for irrigation.

However, he does see their pumps getting clogged from items being flushed down the toilet.

"Like baby wipes and hand sanitation cloths. They don’t break down and they get caught on pumps. Yeah, they’ll flush down a toilet but they don’t disintegrate or anything. They just come through to the plant and if they make it through the plant, they’ll clog stuff up here," he explained.

He said that they have to at least pull one of their pumps out at least once a week with a crane and clean it out.

"We could be doing other things," he said.

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