WATER QUALITY AND THE COLLEGE OF
Water is the lifeblood of Idaho! Over 22,000,000,000 gallons of water are used each day in Idaho. Over 97% of this water is used on 4,100,000 acres of irrigated farmland. Eighty percent of the water comes from surface sources (rivers and reservoirs), the other 20 percent is groundwater. Currently, the quality of water used in Idaho is excellent.
The College of Agriculture at the University of Idaho is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of water quality in Idaho while at the same time maintaining a profitable agricultural economy. The college maintains faculty on campus at Moscow, at research and extension centers at Sandpoint, Parma, Caldwell, Twin Falls, Aberdeen, Idaho Fall, Dubois, Kimberly, and Tetonia and in 42 of the state's 44 counties. Over 80 college faculty have expertise in some water quality issues. Water quality programs are incorporated into the education, research, and extension missions of the College of Agriculture. In addition, faculty in the College of Agriculture often work jointly with the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute (IWWRI) and other colleges on campus. College programming areas dealing with water quality include:
WATER QUALITY RESEARCH
Over 30 experiment station faculty are actively engaged in research projects targeted at water quality problems within the state and of national concern. These on-going research projects are conducted in every department in the college, on campus at Moscow, and at various Research and Extension Centers located throughout the state. Important water quality research areas in the college include:
IDAHO'S WATER RESOURCE
Idaho is the second-largest water user in the United States. Only California uses more. On a per capita basis, Idaho is the nation's top water user--22,000 gallons per day. Idaho is also the country's fourth largest user of groundwater. Groundwater comprises only 22% of Idaho's total water use, but it accounts for nearly 95% of our drinking water.
Irrigated agriculture in Idaho began in 1843. By 1899 more than half a million acres were under irrigation. By 1905 irrigation drew so much water from the Snake River that a 10-mile stretch near Blackfoot went dry. People then first realized the limits of Idaho's water resources. They responded in 1906 by building Milner Dam, Idaho's first large irrigation storage project. In 1945, surface water in southern Idaho became limited, so irrigation turned to groundwater to help irrigate what is today more than 4.1 million acres.
Agriculture is Idaho's largest industry and its largest water user. Agriculture water use in Idaho averages 21.6 billion gallons per day. This figure includes 1.0 billion gallons used on trout farms in southcentral Idaho. Idaho accounts for about 15% of the nation's total agricultural water withdrawals.
Industry and mining account for 2% of Idaho's water use. Mining uses about half of this water; food processing operations and pulp and paper mills use the rest.
Domestic and commercial water use (homes, restaurants, and office buildings) comprises only 1% of Idaho's water use. Although the percentage of total use is small, per capita use is high. Idahoans use nearly 311 gallons per person per day in their homes and businesses--more than the residents of any other state.
The facts presented above and more interesting information can be found in a new CES/AES publication entitled "Idaho's Water Resource" (CIS 887). Copies of this publication can be obtained free of charge from Connie King in Ag Publications (208-885-7982).
EPA'S NATIONAL PESTICIDE SURVEY
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed its five-year National Survey of Pesticides in Drinking Water Wells (NPS). Between 1988 and 1990, EPA sampled approximately 1300 community water systems (CWS) wells and rural domestic wells (RDW) for the presence of 101 pesticides, 25 pesticide degradates, and nitrate. The survey results statistically represent approximately 94,600 drinking water wells at community water systems and over 10.5 million rural domestic wells throughout the United States. Well samples were collected from Bonner and Latah counties in Idaho for this survey.
EPA designed the survey with two principal objectives: (1) to determine the frequency and concentration of the presence of pesticides and nitrate in drinking water wells nationally; and (2) to improve EPA's understanding of how the presence of pesticides and nitrate in drinking water wells is associated with patterns of pesticide use and the vulnerability of groundwater contamination. It will take a few years for the EPA to statistically sort through the data; however, initial results provide useful information.
Nitrate was commonly detected in NPS wells. About 52.1% of CWS and 57% of RDW wells contained detectable levels of nitrates. However, only 1.2% of CSW and 2.4% of RDW wells contained nitrate-N values in excess of 10 ppm (national health standard).
EPA estimates that 10.4% of CWS and 4.2% of RDW wells contained detectable levels of at least one pesticide or pesticide degradate. The two most commonly detected pesticides analytes were DCPA acid metabolites and atrazine.
A brief summary of the EPA national pesticide survey is included as an attachment. If you need more details, Bob Mahler has a copy of the complete report.
WATER QUALITY PUBLICATIONS
The Cooperative Extension System has created a new series of "Quality Water for Idaho" publications. These materials will be printed by CES/AES as part of the Current Information Series of publications. All "Quality Water for Idaho" publications will be distinct as they will be printed with dark blue ink on gray paper. Eventually about two dozen publicaitons will belong to this series. Presently, these materials are being printed with a grant from USDA-ES. Consequently, there is no charge for these publications. This, in part, has resulted in the distribution of almost 30,000 copies of these materials in the past nine months.
There are currently six publications available in the "Quality Water for Idaho" series. Several additional topics will be available over the next few months. To order copies of these CIS's, contact Connie King in Ag Publications (208-885-7982). Current titles include:
|CIS 861||Pesticide Handling Practices to Protect Groundwater|
|CIS 865||Pesticides and Their Movement in Soil and Water|
|CIS 872||Nitrate and Groundwater|
|CIS 873||Water Testing|
|CIS 874||Drinking Water Standards|
|CIS 887||Idaho's Water Resource|
EXTENSION WATER QUALITY
In 1990, CES faculty were surveyed to document programming areas related to water quality and to quantify the amount of time put into these efforts. The purpose of the survey was to document extension program efforts in water quality, set priorities, assess strengths and weaknesses, and justify needs for additional resources. The survey also provides information for developing a directory of faculty expertise which will help coordinate extension efforts in the future.
There are 84 county faculty (84 FTEs), located in 42 of Idaho's 44 counties, and 62 specialists which comprise 48 FTEs. In 1990, University of Idaho extension faculty devoted over 6,000 employee days to programming in areas that have an impact on water quality. Water quality programming efforts were placed into six categories:
Specialists provide 39.5 percent of extension's water quality programming FTE effort. The remaining effort comes from county faculty. Districts I, II, III, and IV account for 16.7 percent, 12.6 percent, 15.5 percent, and 15.7 percent of extension's water quality programming effort, respectively.
A detailed report of the Idaho CES Water Quality Survey is included as an attachment.
IWRRI AWARDS FUND 3 AG
The Idaho Water Resources Research Institute (IWRRI) has selected three projects submitted by College of Agriculture faculty for funding this coming year. College faculty submitted nine projects for IWRRI funding consideration. The objectives of successful projects are summarized below.
IWRRI approved second year funding of the project entitled "Modification of Phosphorus Transport through Soil Materials." D. V. Naylor and S. L. McGeehan of the Soil Science Division submitted the proposal. The research would identify specific soil analyses required to accurately evaluate the P treatment capacity of a site as well as specific soil and waste parameters which facilitate P transport. A comprehensive database identifying soil and waste factors critical to the evaluation of P transport will be collected. This research will also contribute information necessary for implementing a soil monitoring system capable of identifying leaching problems prior to the point of ground or surface water contamination.
The second successful project entitled "Role of Mobile Soil Colloids in the Transport of Synthetic Organic Pesticides" was submitted by M. J. Morra of the Soil Science Division. R. von Wandruska (Chemistry) and J. E. Hammel (Soil Science) are co-project leaders. This research is targeted at providing the theoretical support and database to more accurately model pesticide movement in agricultural soils of Idaho. The PI's will specifically examine the ability of an available model for such purposes. Innovative instrumental techniques and methodologies will be developed which in themselves will be useful to others working the the field of solute transport.
The third proposal that received funding was submitted by B. Izadi (Agricultural Engineering) entitled "A Transfer Function Model for Prediction of Solute Transport in Surface Irrigated Fields." B. King and I. McCann are co-investigators on this project. This study will determine if a simple stoichastic model can be adopted and successfully used for prediction of solute transport through soil.
COLLEGE WATER QUALITY TASK
Drs. LeRoy Luft and Gary Lee have announced the formation of the College of Agriculture Water Quality Task Force. Bob Mahler will serve as task force chairman.
Task force members include:
Bob Mahler, Soil Science, Chairman
Marlene Fritz, Ag Communications
Susan McNall, District I
Mir Seyedbagheri, District II
Joan Parr, District III
Dan Lucas, District IV
Erestine Porter, Home Economics
Roy Taylor, Ag Engineering
Tom Karsky, Ag Engineering
Dorrell Larsen, Ag Engineering
Charles Brockway, Ag Engineering
Hugh Homan, Entomology
Jeff Stark, Plant Science
Merlyn Brusven, Entomology
Scott Kellogg, Bacteriology & Biochemistry
Dean Falk, Animal Science
Dave Walker, Ag Economics
Greg M&Oouml;ller, Analytical Laboratory
The task force is designed to provide leadership and coordination for extension and experiment station water quality efforts. This committee will be meeting sometime in May. If you have any agenda items for this group please speak to a task force member.
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All contents copyright © 1997-2003. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho. All rights reserved. Revised: January 3, 2003