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Issues USA: Northwest

Waste in Idaho

By Brigitte Keen

What was once home to a military training area now plays host to Twin Falls, Idaho’s most infamous illegal dumpsite. Although the Hub Butte sits just one mile from the nearest landfill, residents still choose to deposit unwanted items there illegally. These discarded items include; couches, mattresses, old tires, television sets, vacuums, animal carcasses, and even medical supplies. Several gallon drums of kidney dialysis solution have been found, posing a health risk to the surrounding community and environment. Additionally, while buried items present a more eminent threat of soil and ground water contamination, the above ground pollutants have put local wildlife in danger. People have reported seeing elk, yellow-bellied marmots, and geese with garbage entangling their bodies.

Out of the 60 known dumpsites in Twin Falls, the Hub Butte is considered the worst.

The people of this community have been illegally dumping for years, and garbage is not all that the residents are wasting. A local cleanup in 2006 cost $60,000, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Since this time, this illegal behavior has continued and worsened. "People think it's OK to do this,” says, Rich Lloyd of the Bureau of Land Management. Some use the area recreationally, for target practice. They’ll leave their “trigger trash” for the next person, and so the cycle continues.

The estimated price tag to clean up this site is a minimum of $30,000. Government funding, and fines are the main benefactors. Unfortunately, with so many other polluted areas in the state and throughout the country, it can be difficult to compete for government support. Local law enforcement has cracked down in order to discourage dumpers. For littering a beer bottle, one could face a $100 ticket, while more severe offenses could result in a $1,000 fine, community service, and imprisonment. Idaho is also cracking down on those that deposit solid waste at transfer stations. Because of the potential risk to motorists and transfer station staff, those who do not properly secure their items could also face fines.

Though fines are in place, and the many dumpsites are known, educating the public about this issue and its effects have yet to be considered. By educating and spreading awareness throughout the community, attitudes may be altered and behaviors may be corrected.

The New Montana

Under the Clean Water Rule

By Jason Zheng

The state and federal government exist because to the people they serve, however due to the recent actions of the federal government, we can say that they have failed to serve the people and conserving the environment. Though this rule can be applied to certain jurisdiction across the United States, this brief will particularly focus on Montana.

The Environmental Protection Agency modernized the 43-year-old Clean Water Act, which this action was needed because of the need to controlling pollution in headwater creeks, springs, and seeps. The rule has been placed under review by a Science Advisory Board, which used over 1,200 scientific journals describing to the necessary actions to protect rivers, lakes and streams across America. However the update version of the rule threatens the people of Montana by encouraging more pollution and less protection.

The new EPA’s rule did not include geological terms such as “tributary” and a “perennial, intermittent or ephemeral stream”, as columnist Guy Alsentzer for Missoulian News stated. Alsentzer went stating that the EPA’s new rule only uses “arbitrary measurements such as a 4,000-foot perimeter, and requiring a “high-water mark” and “bed and banks” in order for a waterway to be eligible for protection”. Three implications further examines just how so this new rule impact Montana’s environment.

The first implication states how the seasons of the year affect the flow of water (intermittent flow during late spring and summer, as well after snowmelt) and do not possess “high water marks” nor “bed and banks”.

The second implication is that the new rule will protect fewer miles of waterways and less water. This also means that groundwater would no longer be protected like before.

The third implication is that the EPA creates new exemptions and loopholes that allows corporation and industrialists to further degrade water ways.

The original EPA’s Clean Water Rule was created as an opportunity to protect the waters of Montana and ensuring that it is usable for health and recreational use. However, the current Clean Water Rule is more like a step in policing. 

Washington’s Storm Water Pollution

by Courtney Johnston

Washington State, as well as the rest of the nation, has many pollution problems that are within the environment. This can range from air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, and many more. Pollution can affect, not only humans, but animals too. This is because pollution, no matter what kind of pollution it is, affects the environment. All living things need clean air, clean water, natural food, etc. to live and to be able to sustain life. Pollution causes many problems with all of these. People are a big problem when it comes to pollution because humans are the ones creating pollution.

One of the major ways that Washington State is suffering from pollution is from storm water runoff. This problem may cause different issues for humans, but for animals it is crucial. Storm water runoff is “the Number 1 water pollution problem in the urban areas of our states, and it causes and contributes to flooding” (Payne). It is destroying salmon habitats, putting wildlife species at risk, causing low flows within water streams, not allowing the ground to soak up the water to be used for underground water supplies, and many other problems (Payne).

This runoff picks up chemicals, bacteria, soil particles, oil, and other toxins and it is being drained into nearby streams and rivers causing serious consequences for the wildlife in these streams (Payne). This is a huge problem now and it will continue to grow in the future if the present problems cannot change.

Communities need to come together to create new ways to prevent storm water runoff from damaging the environment. “In Washington, the state Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and local governments all work together to regulate stormwater” (Payne). Having a combined effort with everyone in the community and the local governments can create a change that is needed to help find solutions to the pollution problem.

Payne, J. (n.d.). Environment Education Guide: Protecting Washington’s water from stormwater pollution

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