Idaho Capitol

The Idaho Capitol. The state Department of Environmental Quality is seeking money to pay for three new inspectors.

Funding for the continued development of Idaho's new Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, including hiring three more inspectors, is part of the operating budget the state Department of Environmental Quality requests for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency last June formally gave Idaho primacy in carrying out Clean Water Act regulation of pollutants that get into surface water from a single, identifiable source.

The 2014 Idaho Legislature directed DEQ to develop the program. Many agricultural producers like the local decisions and potentially greater efficiency that state control offers.

State lawmakers for fiscal 2019 appropriated to DEQ about $66.96 million including state General Fund revenue from income and sales taxes, federal money and fees.

The department on Jan. 18 proposed a fiscal 2020 budget of $67.86 million to the Idaho Legislature Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, with funding to hire two inspectors and an inspector supervisor, all based in the Boise area.

Gov. Brad Little recommended a fiscal ’20 budget of $68.06 million.

Committee members likely will consider additional IPDES hiring next year. A budget summary said EPA requires Idaho to fully implement the program, which calls for 29 positions.

The current IPDES staff is 23 persons.

The department for fiscal 2020 requests $756,700 for staff, capital and operating costs to continue developing IPDES.

field reporter, SW Idaho and SE Oregon

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