Report: Snake River plain aquifer is contaminated with high levels of nitrate

The CEO of the Dairymen's Association talks to KMVT about the report.
The CEO of the Dairymen's Association talks to KMVT about the report.(KMVT)
Published: Jul. 12, 2019 at 8:24 PM MDT
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According to a new report, the Snake River plain aquifer is holding a dirty secret.


from the Idaho Conservation League found excessive levels of nitrate in Magic Valley wells.

"There is some levels on contamination that are growing, through normal human activity. (There) is some increase in nitrates in some areas," said Michael Brown from the Department of Environmental Quality.

The report says those nitrate levels are because of human factors like fertilizer seeping into the ground after being used on fields and farms, and even contaminates from our dairy industry.

"Septics, over-application of fertilizers, homeowners on their yards, farmers," Brown listed.

KMVT talked with the Idaho Dairymen's Association about the report and they tell us they follow state standards.

“It gave the perception that the dairy industry is largely unregulated," said Rick Naerebout, the CEO of the association. "And, that we've added all these cows without any concerns for the environmental impacts. And really didn't tell the complete story about the structure that is in place that with the growth of the dairy industry, we are protecting the environment."

The dairy industry is regulated by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and they inspect multiple times a year.

The aquifer provides drinking water to more than 300,000 residents in southern Idaho.

"Certainly agricultural practices are going to be a part to that. We won't deny that our human activity in agriculture has an impact on the environment, but I think everybody in society has to recognize that there is an impact to all of our activities, whether we're fertilizing our lawn, or using manure as a fertilizer. That all has an impact and it’s not just the dairy industry's responsibility, but it's the entire community's responsibility to address this issue," Naerebout said.