No Agreement over Idaho Water Regulations

IDAHO, US - The State and other groups remain split over water laws for the expected future expansion of large-scale poultry farming in Idaho.
calendar icon 5 August 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

After hosting their final public meeting, state regulators and outside groups are still a long way from agreeing on regulating how large-scale poultry operations interact with the groundwater supply, reports Times-News Magic Valley.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has until the end of the month to hand over a draft of rules to legislative committees.

In the spring, the Legislature transferred inspection and regulation authority over poultry operations to ISDA from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Earlier this week, ISDA hosted its final public meeting for those interested in submitting proposals.

Agency representatives devoted the majority of the time to discussing regulations to protect Idaho's groundwater. Some groups want requirements more stringent than large beef and dairy facilities are held to, citing a chance to firm up such protections while the poultry industry is young.

John Bilderback, section manager for the ISDA dairy and confined-animal feeding operations bureau, said: "At this point, there is no consensus on groundwater regulation. The only agreement we have is that we may regulate production wells, which the dairy and beef farms do already."

Representatives from the Idaho Conservation League and Humane Society are pushing for more rules.

Courtney Washburn, community conservation director for the Idaho Conservation League, said: "We have serious groundwater issues now. We need regulation not only for the poultry industry but for beef and dairy as well."

While a handful of poultry farms are currently working in the state, the industry is expected to boom as other states have enforced stricter operating rules, reports Times-News Magic Valley.

Mr Bilderback added: "At this point, the discussion is agency-focused since not that many poultry facilities are operating in the state right now. More operators are expected to come to the state, which is why we need to prepare now."

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