In the Press

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, December 9, 2020

Guest shot: Many must work toward Hoback’s clean water

Human behavior and hydrology have collided in the southern reaches of Teton County near Hoback Junction. It’s time to pick up the pieces.

Locals struggle to deal with the increasing costs of rising nitrate levels in drinking water as well as managing the wastewater systems believed to be the source of the nitrates. A growing number of public and private water systems have exceeded drinking water standards for nitrate.

Recent accounts of the Hoback RV Park demonstrate that water issues extend beyond human health and infrastructure. This is also a matter of social justice: who is responsible for filling this hole we have dug?

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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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Buckrail, October 7, 2020

Town and county candidates talk water quality with Protect Our Water JH

JACKSON, Wyo. — Protect Our Water Jackson Hole, a local non-profit that advocates for reducing nutrient pollution and protecting the water quality in Jackson Hole, recently asked candidates how they prioritize water quality, alongside other community needs.

POWJH compiled the candidate’s responses in videos to help educate the voters on the topic and invited every candidate appearing on the local ballot to speak.

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JH News & Guide, September 30, 2020

Guest Shot: We must act now to protect our water

Over 40 years ago, Teton County’s first comprehensive land use plan recognized the threat that mismanaged wastewater and poorly functioning septic systems posed to our valley’s water. A related study conducted at that time identified high groundwater and coarse soils in many areas of the county as incompatible with septic systems, which would contaminate wells, groundwater and surface water. Yet here we are, decades later, and the critical need to protect our precious water resources is largely absent from our Comprehensive Plan, even as nitrate concentrations are rising in groundwater in many areas of our county, threatening access to safe and affordable drinking water.

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JH News & Guide, September 30, 2020

Water quality becomes focus in Comp Plan update

A draft update to the 2012 Jackson/Teton Comprehensive Plan is on its way to elected officials for a final review where water quality is sure to be top of mind.

“We have substitutes for fossil fuels,” County Planning Commissioner Susan Lurie said Monday, arguing for the importance of water quality in Jackson Hole. “There is no substitute for water.”

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Jackson Hole Daily, September 24, 2020

Dog-killing algae investigated in Palisades

The Idaho Department of Environmental quality is investigating the presence of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in a heavily used lake straddling the Idaho-Wyoming state line: Palisades Reservoir.

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JH News & Guide, September 24, 2020

Board of Health votes to investigate new water regulations

The Teton District Board of Health unanimously approved an investigation into proposed regulations on public water systems.

The proposed rules would mandate publication of notices if a public water system exceeds nitrate levels of 3 milligrams per liter, which the EPA says “generally indicates contamination.” The goal is to keep water systems from approaching 10 milligrams per liter, which the EPA deems hazardous for consumption.

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JH News & Guide, September 23, 2020

Editorial: Clean water can’t be taken for granted

Pollution is creeping into Teton County waters, we need to act now.

Jackson Hole has a water quality problem. For over 40 years we have known that this was coming, but we have been slow to act.

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