Speak out or pay up

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Washington state is forging ahead with its insistence that Idaho cities meet a more difficult standard of wastewater discharge than do Washington dischargers.

Disappointing, yes. Surprising? Nope. When Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant decreed that the two neighbors would be held to different water quality standards, not even the ducks downriver gave a quack.

Business as usual.

But this business as usual, barring an unexpected veto from the federal Environmental Protection Agency or from the courts, is going to cost you. In fact, the phospherous-o-meter is running right now.

Before Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Hayden-area dischargers have really ramped up the legal fightin' machine, a good attorney in Boise is already costing $400 an hour on this case. And if these entities do the only thing justice and common sense dictate, they will spend what they must to prevent this inequity from advancing.

That legal price tag will pale compared to what almost certainly is headed your way if these standards are forced down your pipes. Wastewater disposal experts on the Idaho side say every household can plan to basically pay twice what they're paying now on sewer rates. The infrastructure and new technology that will be required - once that new technology has been developed, anyway - could make your monthly sewage bill about $50, average Coeur d'Alene resident; not the $24.50 you're now paying. Post Falls average homeowner, yours should go up from $27 to $54 - and that's probably a conservative estimate. That's an extra $300 a year on the sewer portion of your utility bill alone.

We believe one of the reasons Washington has pushed so doggedly in its self-preserving direction is because there hasn't been sufficient pushback from Idaho. Change that or pay the consequences. Contact Rep. Walt Minnick, Sen. Jim Risch and Sen. Mike Crapo today and tell them how important this issue is to you.

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