Boise Gets Permits, Begins Five-Year Plan to Lower River Phosphorous

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The City of Boise has received new permits from the Environmental Protection Agency providing guidelines to radically reduce the amount of phosphorus that makes its way to the Boise River.

Last summer, BW first told you about the new guidelines that include never-before-seen restrictions on phosphorous and water temperature. As a result, the city bumped up sewer rates to pump $5 million into Boise's wasterwater treatment facilities, as part of a long-term plan that could cost up to $50 million over the next five years.

Under the new permits, issued this week, Boise officials promised the EPA to limit mercury and ammonia discharges and release cooler water from treatment plants into the river.

As we reported in 2011, Boise needs to bring its phosphorous discharges down from approximately 1,100 pounds per day to approximately 15 pounds daily.

"Our permits have never had a limit on phosphorous before," Paul Woods, Boise's Environmental Division manager, told BW last summer. "This is brand new, and it's a very big issue."

How does Boise reduce its phosphorous by such a large margin? Under a two-part plan, the city first began something called its Enhanced Biological Nutrient Removal. Secondly, the plan includes the Dixie Drain, a 49-acre parcel of land between Notus and Parma. You can read about it here.

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