Water in Idaho


Idaho scientifically is categorized as a desert, therefore, it seems ironical when the state becomes the most water-rich part of the United States. Water availability is through a number of rivers, lakes, and water-bearing rocks like the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer, which covers nearly 35,800 square miles. The aquifers span to the majority of the southern Idaho and make an extension to the neighboring states. The fact that it is scientifically considered to be a desert presents challenges. The essay is thus to address water usage regarding the environment, domestic and agriculture.

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Agriculture in Idaho

Agriculture is an art that employs skills based on certain fundamental scientific findings. It involves crop production and livestock keeping. It is an activity that has stood the test of time to be the backbone and economic resource upon which many countries are sustained. Over the years, it has been known that any country that does best agriculturally and grows a variety of agricultural produce in surplus has a stable economic foundation. People are able to engage in their daily tasks without having to worry about starvation. For this reason, there is a need to look deeper into the agricultural sector of Idaho and factors that have made it exist as such.

Agriculture contributes a significant portion of the state’s economy. It contributes to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs. The agribusiness sector has a 16-percent contribution to the employment fraternity. Statistics as of 2005 reveal agricultural products to have had a value of $4,484,275,000, with over a half of the record generated from the livestock produce and dairy products. Census conducted in 2002 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed and reported that twenty percent of the land which translates to 11.77 million acres, or 47,630 square kilometers, is used for agricultural activities. It further claimed an average firm size to be 470 acres with an average farm operator age being 54.1 years.

The infrastructure to foster agriculture and make it effective include irrigation schemes that are of high importance, therefore, the agricultural sector as a developmental project utilizes 85% of the state’s water that contributes to nearly 13% of the water used by the nation. These necessities thus make Idaho the third largest fresh water consumer state after Texas and California, which utilize an average of 19.5 billion gallons per day in which larger quantities are to meet their agricultural demands.

Despite many challenges, Idaho’s agricultural sector has grown and become the largest and most prosperous industry in the United States. Comparatively, it is ranked number one globally in the production of barley, commercial trout, and potatoes. In addition, it is the second in spearmint production and the third in hops, sugar beets, onions, and peppermint production. The success has come recently with the change in the irrigation systems that constitutes around 3.2 million of irrigated lands within the state and has greatly stimulated the success in crop production. The difference has been born out of the transition from flood irrigation to the sprinklers irrigation methods. The application of the sprinkler method has led to a significant decrease in water use, restricting farmers to supply water that is only necessary for the growth. It has also put in place contingency plans that include the construction of extensive dams, water reservoirs, canals, and numerous drainage ditches that facilitate conservation and efficient water.

Favorable soils and climatic conditions are the pillars that propel the growth rate of agriculture in Idaho. The southern part of Idaho typically experiences 12 mm of rain every year, while the northern part is exposed to rainfalls of up to 25 mm. The climate is made favorable through the influence of the Pacific weather patterns. The Pacific winds blow both offshore and onshore, thus contributing to the temperature regulatory factors as it is moderated at both extremes. It neither becomes very high nor fall too low. The average temperature measurement at the northern part of Idaho is 22oF in January and gets to its maximum of 85oF around July. On the other hand, the average temperature measurement of the southern part yields an average of 21oF in January and shoots to its maximum reading of 90oF in July. To prevent its fertile soils from being depleted, Idaho has put into place fifty-one soil conservation districts.

Livestock and crop production are its major areas of operation. It has become a trademark and is recognized for the production of 80-85% of the sweet corn seeds globally other than just becoming the top supplier of alfalfa, garden beans and field, the famous Kentucky bluegrass seeds, onions, carrots, lettuce seed, and turnip. As per the productions of alfalfa, palms, fresh prunes, hay and hops, Idaho is ranked number three within the nation.Statistically, it is among the top ten in the nation known to produce 26 different types of crops and livestock of which 70% of it comprise the hybrid temperate sweet corns that are produced globally. In the nation, it is ranked number one in production of good-sized trout at 72%. Finally, it is the third in the nation for the production of milk. Yogurt brand, preferably Chobani, is recently ranked number three among all brands which have opened a $100 million plant shortly in Idaho to mitigate the need to expand the United States.

The Environment

To preserve the quality of air, land, and water in Idaho and protect human health, the Department of Environmental Quality Control in Idaho made the aforementioned the number one objective of their work. That is to sustain the environment for the use and enjoyment today and the future. The Department of Environmental Quality has become a state department in the recent past as had been proposed by the Environmental Protection and Health Act. Its initiation was to enhance and ensure clean air, consumable water, and land in the county while protecting the citizens of Idaho from the adverse health effects that could originate from the impacts of pollution.

Sources of Water

The regulatory agency, particularly foresters, enforces and re-enforces different types of state regulations and administers various federal environment protection regulations and rules that include acts against air pollution, keeping water clean, and empowering the resource conservation and recovery acts. The Department of Environmental Quality is thus commissioned to work in partnership with other local communities, business corporations, and both local and international citizens to distinguish and implement cost-effective measures to the environment solutions.

Ground water is the most significant water resource for various activities of the Idaho’s citizens and the general way of life. The ground water has the sole purpose of replenishing the Idaho’s streams, rivers and generally provide much needed fresh water to the state's irrigation schemes, industries both processing and manufacturing and the general community at large. Furthermore, the groundwater accounts for 95% of the state’s drinking water supplies. It is notable that the demand of water is thus proportional to the growth of the population of the Idaho state.

Source water is another important untreated ground water resource. For example, it includes aquifers, springs, and surface water that comprise rivers, streams, and lakes. It is fundamental in the supply of drinking water to parties that include the private sector, public water systems and domestic wells at large. Unfortunately, the ground and surface water, which are used as drinking water supplies, possess very much vulnerability to cause contaminations originating from land use effects and other contamination sources that are in the close range to the water bodies. To protect the source, the department has put in place service boards to conduct assessments. This acts as the cornerstone for its full protection. Local citizens are thus advised to use the information, guidelines, and assessments to further help in water conservation. The resultant effect created a broader solution to problems that ensures prevention of the speculated future threats to the quality and supplies of the drinking water. The information that originates from the assessment actions is used by the Environmental Quality Department in managing other public water systems that are under their control in the long run.

Surface water in Idaho, like in other states of the United States, comprises wetlands, reservoirs, lakes, streams, and rivers. They contribute to aesthetic values of nature in Idaho and are significant to the natural beauty, recreational purposes, and aquatic life.The supply of drinking water and water used for irrigation in the agricultural industry are the most important factors for the citizens. Through the Department of Environmental Quality, the surface water is treated and maintained to ensure that it meets the expected beneficial purposes through meeting the Idaho water quality standards. The policies that deal with water standards are fostered through the Anti-Degradation Guidance that stipulates the policies that are designed primarily to look into the necessary procedures that maintain water quality to meet the exceeding levels of its advantageous applications.

Waste Water in Idaho

Wastewater in Idaho originates mostly from households, industries, and human activities such as agricultural practices. This type of water has been realized to contain a significant level of harmful substances that contaminate water and result in water quality degradation. These contaminants from every possible site include soil, dirt, chemicals, dissolved salts, and human wastes. Apart from being detrimental and unhealthy to human life, the untreated wastewater poses serious environmental hazards to the entire environment.

The Department of Environmental Quality has the sole responsibility of implementing proper wastewater management plans. It has to put into place efficient disposal mechanisms to ensure that the citizens of Idaho consume only treated water, free from contaminants and environmental hazards. The programs are fundamental to ensure that the established standards regarding on-site wastewater systems operate under the issuance of permits that control the quantity of waste water used on the irrigation-dependent agricultural lands.

Treatment of the Collected Waste Water

The regulatory specifications of the Department of Environmental Quality require that every source of waste water production have clear and safe disposal plans. These could be either decentralized or centralized systems. The centralized sewer disposal plans constitute the large-scale public sewer systems such as the municipal wastewater treatment plants; and the decentralized treatment plants comprise the households and buildings that create the infrastructure for the purpose of disposing of the waste water. The wastewater that has undergone a full circle of water treatment and has been cleaned is disposed of by returning it to the environment. This includes three methods in place such as the effluents being surface discharged, applied in land use such as irrigation for agricultural purposes, and then subsurface discharged.

Domestic Water Usage

Idaho is scientifically considered to be a desert, but it is very much spurring that it has many water sources. There is a variety of water sources that include rivers, lakes, streams, and the underground source such as the aquifers. To ensure continuous use and sustainability of these water sources, the citizens of Idaho have the responsibility of putting some means of conservation into place. Domestic water use leads to consumption of water at larger quantities; thus, there is the need to conserve it. This essay highlights some of the applicable ways through which water is consumed and how its wastage can be reduced

The water aquifers have become the major source of water known to produce and supply nearly 50% of the drinking water for the Idaho citizens. The eastern part of Idaho majorly depends on the Snake River Plain Aquifer. Internationally, it is the largest among ever-discovered aquifers that are extremely productive. Its feasibility and significance are realized in its ability and capability to supply water that is enough to meet the water needs of over 300,000 citizens of the Eastern Idaho. Considering that the area is a desert, the failure of the aquifers to produce water would suddenly transform the location into the evident desert that it is. It is the major source of crystal clear drinking water to the Idaho State.The water is also of much importance in terms of recreational activities, household washings, showers, toilets, cleanings, and any other activity that requires using water in Idaho National Research.

The fact that so much of this water from the aquifer is used, the state, and its citizens must learn how to conserve the water to make it sustainable. The number one means of conservation is to reduce the water use in cleaning the toilets, taps, showers, laundry, and doing the dishes.This can be practiced by the installation of the low-flow shower heads that were introduced in 1994 by the Department of Environmental Quality Control. According to statistics, having showers over the head could lead to water conservation since the bath tabs consume nearly 70 gallons of water to get filled. This can help save around 15 gallons per every ten minutes of the shower period. Not only can that lead to water conservation but also reduce the power that is used while bathing with hot water.

The households use water up to 20 gallons in flushing the toilets on a daily basis, owing to the fact that a standard toilet requires nearly 3.5 gallons to perform a successful flush. Therefore, the conservation measure is to retrofit the standard toilets with some volume occupying objects to initiate some volume displacement to reduce the water used while flushing. In the event that this is done, nearly 5 gallons of water is conserved. Possible sources of leaking should also be detected and fixed as soon as possible since they help reduce the water wastage. Water that is lost per individual brushing their teeth also presents much of concern. People tend to leave the taps running for the entire brushing period without realizing that much water is wasted. To conserve water, it is advisable to close the tap and only open it whenever you are ready to finalize your brushing. The ability of individuals to be able to take short showers would greatly reduce water wastage. There are a majority of people who while brushing their teeth, open up the water for the entire duration. Human behaviors such as that must be stopped to minimize water waste. A glass of water for brushing is entirely enough thus the tap should be turned off immediately after wetting the toothbrush.

Laundry services are another part of the domestic water-consuming avenue. It generally takes up to 24% of the daily indoor use. Conservation of such water in households can be implemented by using front loading washing machines that need approximately 20 gallons per every load while the top loading washing machine uses up to 40 gallons. Further conservation mechanism can be performed determining the capacity of the load and changing the settings depending on the needs of the machine per wash. Dish washing by hand consumes up to 20 gallons of water per day while the energy driven star dishwasher uses only 4 gallons of water per load. This calls for the use of the machine that reduces the consumption of water required for any laundry by half the quantity used.

Domestic water also finds its application in the outside cleanings by individuals. These include the yards and pools that need up to 60% of the household water use as outlaid by the water use blueprint. To keep the aesthetic value of nature in the personal yards, there is the need to use more water owing to the inadequate supply of the rain water. For conservation purposes, ranch and yard owners must be aware of the types of the grass they keep and plant, and the amount of water that is required specifically for their growth and sustainability. The Department of Environmental Quality Control thus recommends to use fewer fertilizers that in turn requires less supply of water since the more fertilizers are used on the lawns, the more water would be consumed. The documents further emphasize the need to aerate the lawns during spring and fall to ensure water seepages and sustainability through which water is made to stay longer within the soils, thus ensuring the conservation. Pool owners, on the other hand, are advised to use cover materials such as canvas papers to minimize evaporation of the pool water every time that it is filled.

Citizens of Idaho should all develop the culture of conserving water. Unfortunately, not all of them adhere to the initiatives of water conservation and sustainability. It is recommended that the state sticks to the drought management contingencies and fallback positions. In the plans, there are the efforts to ensure eradication of the single pass cooling systems and fitting the bathrooms facets with retrofitting with efficient aerations. The government should put in place efforts to ensure that hotels, households, and restrooms are fitted with modern standard toilets and urinals that ensure conservation.

One of the ways to ensure water conservation in Idaho is to let each and every household be liable to the amount of water they consume. By being liable, every household has to pay monetary value equivalent to the quantity of water that they use every month. This would mean having to do away with the flat rate payment schemes that have been in place for a long time. Each individual will feel the infringement in their pockets whenever they have to pay high bills due to the use of water without looking for the wastage they are causing. Therefore, they will be forced to take water conservation measures into consideration to avoid high bills.


The Department of the Environmental Quality Control in Idaho is the body that ensures that water is protected and has the quality that is recommended for human consumption. They too are solely responsible for ensuring that the air and land are prevented from depletion. The citizens thus are advised to help them by sticking to the regulations as outlined to ensure that they only consume water that is of high quality and safest for their health concern and promote activities that aim at its sustainability.


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