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.