Winning the water war - Coeur d'Alene Press: Editorial

Winning the water war

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Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 12:00 am

This might be "the issue of the decade" for North Idaho.

Why, then, does the water-quality dispute between Idaho and Washington leaders elicit little more than yawns and drooping eyelids from the average citizen?

Maybe it's because the issue is replete with esoteric technical terms and staggering dollar figures. Maybe it's because we in the media haven't helped the educational cause, weighing readers down with all those technical terms and tossing in words like "replete" and "esoteric."

What does matter is that there's some good news on the horizon.

As we reported last week, the University of Idaho and Washington State University have received a grant from the National Science Foundation for a two-year study. The grant is $150,000 - roughly what a week or two of litigation costs.

As it now stands, several Idaho entities are mounting a litigious mountain to ward off attempts by our neighbors to the west and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force a more strict water cleanliness standard for the Spokane River on Idaho than on Washington.

What we hope the study accomplishes is this: Take the dispute out of politicians' offices and courtrooms and place it firmly in the hands of science.

Why does that matter? Because, as Sen. John Goedde says, this could be the issue of the decade for North Idaho.

"It will shape growth patterns forever," he told us.

As eagerly as we anticipate scientific findings on the water we all must share, we don't think the study will resolve the contentious, expensive double-standard now being pushed against North Idaho. It'll be too little, too late. Washington is determined to force higher clean-water standards on us than on themselves, and thankfully, our leaders in Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and Hayden are pushing back.

If there's a political compromise in the works we hope it surfaces soon. We could all stand a breather in this bitter fight and wait for science from both states to help answer important questions.

In the meantime, Joe Q. Citizen will probably just keep yawning anyway.

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  • sharetheplanet posted at 6:55 am on Thu, Oct 14, 2010.

    sharetheplanet Posts: 809

    Water quality, lack of water. Does it REALLY matter? City and counties are still gunna issue building permits for big developments gobbling up AG and forest land.

  • RadRevD posted at 10:57 am on Wed, Oct 13, 2010.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    It will be a mistake to hand it over to Science, for it's findings are usually suppressed if they impede development. It is more appropriate to mandate that all dischargers in all 50 states comply with EPA standards. That goes for golf course developments as well!

  • chouli posted at 9:56 am on Wed, Oct 13, 2010.

    chouli Posts: 1283

    Frankly, I’m offended by your attitude that the citizens could care less about the water dispute between WA and Idaho. Please tell me what you think Joe Q Citizen can do about this right now? Set us straight. Give us your action items…
    If you want to see citizens get involved, how about informing the citizens of Post Falls, Hayden and CDA that their utility bills will shoot up to around $85 or more a month if this WA DOE/EPA goes unchanged?

    If Washington DOE and the EPA are conspiring against Idaho, and they are, I think our Governor and elected officials need to start making political moves to correct this issue. Just what is behind this dishonesty from DOE and EPA?

    It’s beyond logic that the water quality standards could be approved as unfairly as they seem to be.
    I don’t want the most stringent standards in the nation here or unrealistic goals. No thank you WA.
    I do not think a neighboring state should be given the authority to impose anything close to what DOE is doing. And how do they get EPA to go along with it? And to add insult, they make Idaho’s standards higher than their own. No way. It’s time for Idaho to say NO loud and clear. You can join in anytime now, Governor Otter.

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