Take all the acronyms, the scientific formulas, the political agendas at cross purposes and the bitter cross-state line disputes.
Flush it all down the toilet.
And show up at an important public meeting this Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Post Falls Senior Center.
Yes, the issue is about your sewer bill, to put it succinctly. But it's about much more than that, too.
If the federal Environmental Protection Agency moves ahead with plans to clamp the most restrictive water quality standards in the nation on North Idaho, your sewer bill doubling or tripling in the next couple of years could be the least of your concerns.
Nobody's crying "wolf" when they suggest that these standards would force a building moratorium across Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Hayden. Because Washington state doesn't like the amount of phosphorus our communities discharge into the Spokane River and end up in Long Lake, we may collectively need to ante up some $150 million to try to meet unprecedented water quality standards, only to fail at that and still see the already bleak local economic landscape become even more barren.
While the cities are slugging this one out in court, some private citizens have stepped to the waterfront - sorry, the forefront - and arranged a public meeting with representatives of state and federal environmental agencies. Only there's a problem: The feds have now decided not to show up.
That's where we hope you come in. Whether you're motivated by big sewer bills or Big Brother, we encourage you to attend and speak up at the meeting Wednesday so the feds will hear us all the way from Seattle to the west and Washington, D.C., to the east.
For our part, we resent the fact that our neighbors in Washington are trying to raise Idaho's water standards far beyond the standards they're willing to apply to themselves. And all because their Long Lake has a tiny bit more phosphorus than they'd like to see. Experts estimate that with the $150 million investment on this side of the state line, there would only be a 3 percent impact on Long Lake phosphorus levels. In our view, those numbers don't add up.
Of far greater concern to us is the likelihood of economic mayhem brought on by our communities' inability to meet the water quality standards Washington demands, standards that nobody anywhere has attained and no technology exists to support. And that's why we offer this sincere suggestion, and not just a complaint.
Washington has an environmental problem. Idaho has a financial problem. If Washington will fix our financial problem, maybe we can make their environmental problem go away.