In the Press

Buckrail, November 29, 2021

Why are the Small Wastewater Facility (Septic System) Regulations so important?

As a headwaters community of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, our outstanding water resources deserve the best protection — equal to the value they provide. Proper management of septic systems is of critical importance to our valley’s water resources.

It is widely accepted that poorly managed septic systems can lead to significant water quality problems. The 1996 National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress said that “improperly constructed and poorly maintained septic systems are believed to cause substantial and widespread nutrient and microbial contamination to groundwater.” The proposed Teton County Small Wastewater Facility Regulations need to be stronger in order to protect our sole source aquifer.

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Wyofile, September 14, 2021

Researchers look for clues as toxic blooms plague Wyo waters

Toxic blooms form for a variety of reasons, including warm weather and stagnant water. While they’re most often associated with lower-elevation reservoirs and places where nutrient runoff from agriculture, fertilizers, urban areas, wastewater treatment plants…or septic systems is high, they don’t exclusively form in areas with direct runoff.

For reasons researchers are still trying to parse, the U.S. Forest Service is discovering more of them in high-mountain lakes, which could be attributed to atmospheric pollution or cycling of nutrients from forest fires or even beetle-kill trees. 

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Buckrail, September 9, 2021

How do I know if a Public Water System has safe drinking water?

JACKSON, Wyo. (Part 2 in a series of articles) — Last time we talked about how Source Water Assessments (SWAs) can help protect Teton County’s Public Water Systems (PWSs). SWAs are studies or reports that generate information about potential contaminant sources and the potential for drinking water systems to be impacted by these sources. Although SWAs generate information about potential contaminant sources, PWSs should have a Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) to minimize the impacts of the contaminant sources.

Many Teton County residents receive their drinking water from a private well. Private well owners are responsible for the safety of their own water.

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89.1 KHOL - Jackson Hole Community Radio, August 27, 2021

UW Student Tracking E. Coli Sources in ‘Impaired’ Teton County Waterways

The research comes after signs were posted around Fish and Flat creeks earlier this summer advising swimmers and other recreators of the dangers of elevated E. coli levels in local, beloved streams.

E. coli in wildlife is something we can’t control,” said Dan Leemon of Protect Our Water JH. “I hope the community will talk more about the sources that we actually can control.”

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Buckrail, August 23, 2021

What is a Public Water System and how does it affect you?

JACKSON, Wyo. (Part 1 in a series of articles) — The groundwater in the Snake River Aquifer has been designated as a Sole Source Aquifer by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It supplies drinking water for nearly the entire population of Teton County, and no alternative drinking water sources are available if it becomes contaminated. A substantial body of evidence confirms our aquifer is being contaminated, and many Teton County public drinking water systems lack basic protections to keep the water safe.

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High Country News, July 28, 2021

Development In A Wealthy Boom Town Is Fouling A World-Class Trout River

Noxious algae is choking the very watershed that’s drawing people to develop property there.

Experts are working to pinpoint exactly what’s driving recent blooms, but chronic algae…has been largely attributed to nutrient pollution from the area’s ballooning development. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous occur naturally, but humans contribute even more from our septic tanks and other wastewater treatment systems, fertilizers, and clearing land for development. Pollution from America’s most prosperous is sullying a pristine watershed, with help from climate change-driven increases in air and water temperatures and reduced snowpack and river water levels.

“We shouldn’t be piecemeal approaching what’s happening in the greater community…we need to take a holistic approach and the best thing to do right now is to hit pause. We need to hit pause on everything to let the science catch up and direct how we can grow without growth becoming a zero-sum game where the river is the loser.”

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JH News & Guide, May 26, 2021

EDITORIAL: Water quality worth the investment

Jackson Hole has been slow to act when it comes to solving water quality problems brewing for decades.

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Common Ground Column | JH News & Guide, April 14, 2021

National report hits Jackson Hole water quality

The Healthiest Communities rankings from U.S. News & World Report are just out. They show how nearly 3,000 U.S. counties perform in 84 metrics across 10 health and health-related categories.

Teton County scored high overall but was deficient in one very important category: providing safe drinking water to its residents. The report found that 29% of our population is served by drinking water systems that violate Environmental Protection Agency standards.

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Associated Press, January 7, 2021

One-third of America’s rivers have changed color since 1984

America’s rivers are changing color — and people are behind many of the shifts, a new study has found.

Only about 5% of U.S. river mileage is considered to be blue — a color often equated with pristine waters by the general public. But 28% of the rivers are green, which often indicates that they are choked with algae.

“If things are becoming more green, that’s a problem,” said study lead author John Gardner, a University of Pittsburgh geology and environmental sciences professor. Although some green tint to rivers can be normal, Gardener said, it’s often an indication of large algae blooms that cause oxygen loss and can produce toxins.

The study looked at more than 230,000 NASA satellite images taken over 35 years, focusing on rivers and reservoirs. It found that much of the shift to greener rivers happened in the North and West…

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JH News & Guide, November 11, 2020

Comp plan approved with emphasis on water quality

Update zeroes in on water quality, conservation, housing and the economy.

In recent weeks, discussion has focused on water quality and, on Nov. 2, Brad Nielson, the president of Protect Our Water Jackson Hole, successfully lobbied the county commissioners to include language that broadened the scope of a strategy calling for a “water quality enhancement plan” to include a wastewater management plan. The county and Teton County Conservation District are already partnering with the nonprofit to complete such a plan.

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