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The AIC Blog connects the association staff to our membership, provides informative updates on state and federal policy issues, and spotlights upcoming AIC training, conferences and events.


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Top tags: City Officials' Day at the Capitol 

EPA Nutrient Control Technologies and Performance Data: Study/Questionnaire

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Thursday, November 3, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 28, 2016

Nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus, are one of the nations’ most difficult and costly water quality challenges.  Excess nutrients can result in eutrophication and harmful nutrient related toxic algae blooms have shut down recreation, irrigation, livestock watering, and potable water treatment facilities in at least 20 states in 2016.  At least 11 "Harmful Algal Bloom Health Advisories" were issued across the state in 2016 for Idaho waters.

EPA recently published a Federal Register notice for a Proposed National Collection Request for Nutrient Removal for Secondary Municipal Wastewater Treatment Technologies with a comment period that ends November 18, 2016.  

EPA is proposing to use Section 308 of the Clean Water Act, usually used for data collection in enforcement cases, to collect two rounds of data from at least 2,500 municipal wastewater facilities nationwide.  Under Section 308, response to the data collection request is mandatory, has a 30 day required response, has similar signatory requirements of Discharge Monitoring Reports and NPDES permit Applications, and will address nitrogen and phosphorus influent and effluent data, removal efficiency, and treatment technology.  

AIC staff coordinated and submitted comments with interested member Cities.  Specifically, it appears as though EPA is seeking to establish a duplicate data collection program.

An alternative approach to the one currently proposed by the EPA is to “mine” the data that already exist in NPDES permits, factsheets, Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs), and other sources.  AIC staff and some member Cities note that these data are contained in NPDES permits and Fact Sheets, Discharge Monitoring Reports, Nutrient TMDLs, or Nutrient Treatment Technology and Discharge databases or performance data collected by States or regional water quality agencies.  

Data sources that could meet these needs include Chesapeake Bay nitrogen and performance data, Wisconsin statewide data for implementation of the 1992 Technology based Phosphorus standard, Montana treatment technology and performance data associated numeric nutrient nitrogen and phosphorus criteria, Long Island Sound technology and nitrogen performance data, Neuse River TMDL treatment technology and performance data, Lake Champlain Phosphorus TMDL treatment technology and performance data, and possibly others.  

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Associated Taxpayers Conference Will Cover Local Government Funding & Economic Development

Posted By Justin Ruen, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

City officials are strongly encouraged to register for the 70th Annual Associated Taxpayers of Idaho (ATI) Conference, which will be held Wednesday, November 30 at the Boise Centre in Boise.  

This year’s conference will focus on economic development, tax policy, and local government funding issues.

The one-day conference will kick off at 8:30 a.m. with opening remarks by Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little.  At lunch, Idaho Governor Butch Otter will address the attendees.  

The presentations and panels include:

  • Jared Walczak of the Tax Foundation will cover “How Idaho Compares and Competes.”
  • Cortney Liddiard of Ball Ventures will discuss “Taking the Temperature of Idaho Economic Development.”
  • A panel will discuss local government funding issues, including panelists April Renfro of the Idaho Legislative Audits Division, Ada County Assessor Bob McQuade, Idaho State Tax Commissioner Ken Roberts, and Ashley Goul of Verandah Sportswear.
  • Bob Miller of Albertsons will discuss “Why Idaho? A CEO Perspective”
  • Gregory Casey of Veritas Advisors will present “In Transition or In Trouble: Our Great Republic Post 2016.”

The ATI conference is always very informative and provides a great opportunity to network with the many legislators and other state and local officials in attendance.


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Idaho Phase II Municipal Stormwater: New Permit and New Rules Imminent

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, October 24, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

In Idaho several different types of public entities own and/or operate regulated municipal stormwater systems.  These regulated public entities include cities and counties; local highway districts, and the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD); colleges and universities; drainage districts which convey urban storm water runoff; and others.  

Some Idaho public entities' stormwater discharges have had federal NPDES permit coverage since 2000 (i.e., Boise and Garden City urbanized areas), other areas' discharges have been covered by federal permits since 2007 and later (i.e., Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls, Middleton, Nampa, and Caldwell urbanize areas).  And the list of public entities in growing urbanized areas that require permit coverage continues to expand (i.e., Lewiston and Moscow). 

Stormwater permits issued to cities typically include Stormwater Management Plans for the control of construction site runoff, permanent stormwater management controls for new development and redevelopment, good housekeeping and pollution prevention measures for existing stormwater infrastructure, removal and reduction of unauthorized and illegal stormwater discharges, education outreach and public involvement for water quality protection, discharge water quality monitoring, and, in some cases, special conditions for discharges to impaired surface waters. 

Section 402(p)(3) of the Clean Water Act states that municipal permits for stormwater discharges "shall require controls to reduce pollutant discharges to the maximum extent practicable," including best management practices (BMPs) and other provisions as determined to be appropriate for pollutant control. Under this provision, the permitting authority has the discretion to include requirements for reducing pollutants in stormwater necessary for compliance with water quality standards.

EPA has long maintained that water quality-based BMPs, implemented through iterative processes, are appropriate for the control of pollutants in municipal stormwater and may require expanded or more specific BMPs in permits when they are necessary to achieve stormwater waste load allocations and attain water quality standards.

Last year the Ninth Circuit Court approved a settlement agreement requiring the EPA to revise the rules that govern Phase II stormwater permits for small MS4s.  These new rules are due by November 17, 2016.

The September 2015 settlement stems from a 2003 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the court told EPA to “take appropriate action” to address the “procedural issues” with its small municipal stormwater policy and related Phase II stormwater rules.  In 2004 the EPA issued interim guidance in response to the court’s remand, but did not pursue a formal rulemaking.

In response to the 2015 settlement the EPA issued proposed revised rules in January 2016.  The proposed rules require small cities to detail their strategies for controlling stormwater runoff before they can get permit coverage, and require permitting authorities to provide the public with the opportunity to review, submit comments, and request a public hearing on the proposed strategies.  The permitting authorities must then make a final determination on Clean Water Act compliance – all before authorizing the stormwater discharge(s). 

Meanwhile, back in Idaho, we are anticipating a public review draft of the Idaho Phase II Municipal Stormwater General Permit soon. Similar to the combined single general permit for Phase 1 and Phase II published last April, the pending Phase II general permit is expected to represent a shift from how EPA has been doing municipal stormwater permitting (i.e., going from individual permits to a single general permit).  EPA is expected to propose waterbody-specific measures necessary to comply with Idaho Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), including monitoring, assessment activities, and other additional pollutant-specific controls.

Comments were submitted to Idaho DEQ by AIC on the EPA Region 10 pre-draft municipal stormwater permits on September 14, 2016.  

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Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System: Opportunity for Input and Collaboration

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is developing a program to address water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States. In 2014, the Idaho Legislature revised Idaho Code to direct DEQ to seek Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authorization for a state-operated pollutant discharge elimination system permitting program. The current program is operated by EPA and called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The state program will be called the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (IPDES) program.  Current authorizations provided by the Idaho Legislature can be found in Idaho Statutes Title 39, Chapter 1, Sections 175-A through 175-E.

On August 31, 2016, DEQ submitted to EPA for review a program application petitioning for the authority to become the discharge permitting authority in Idaho.  There are multiple steps toward state primacy and development of a program. Two of these steps include preparation and development of IPDES rules and guidance documents. Currently, DEQ is in the process of developing additional IPDES Effluent Limit Development Guidance (ELDG) and is seeking comments. 

Association of Idaho Cities members are meeting with DEQ and other Idaho stakeholders through Negotiated Rule Making and will submit comments on individual draft guidance sections, and on the final draft guidance by late 2017.  

AIC member comments on Section 1 and 2 of the Draft Guidance were submitted following an October 7th stakeholder meeting. AIC's input to date are that the Draft ELDG needs to address challenges unique to Idaho. Most of Idaho’s communities are small, with limited technical resources and limited funds. Even the monitoring requirements can be challenging and expensive. The guidance is anticipated to help permit writers connect the issues and have monitoring, effluent limits, and compliance frequencies that make sense. Data collection requirements must be directly linked to the permitting regulations, aligned from top to bottom, and be coordinated at the appropriate scales (i.e., state-wide or basin-wide) in order to conserve resources. 

Other data analysis issues raised in AIC member comments for Section 1 and 2 of the Draft Guidance are for DEQ to:

  • include the use of "blank" samples to help determine if lab contamination is present;
  • eliminate all requirements that use lab methods not officially approved by the EPA;
  • include appropriate analytical tools and methods to address missing data, outliers, and samples where the results are below the "minimum level of quantification" (ML) or "method detection limit" (MDL);
  • acknowledge and address situations where a parameter does not have an MDLs or MLs; and
  • include the use of "sufficiently sensitive EPA-approved analytical methods" when quantifying the presence of pollutants in a discharge and for analyses of pollutants or pollutant parameters under a permit.

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Integrated Water Management: Water Efficiency for Cost Savings, Other Benefits/Challenges

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, October 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Water efficiency is an essential element in the development of potable, municipal irrigation, stormwater, reuse, and water resource recovery infrastructure.  Water efficiency can also lead to cost savings, energy savings, and significant cost savings to rate payers.  With respect to security, water efficiency can increase a region's drought resilience and ensure adequate water supply for future growth.

The 2010 USGS National Water Use Report indicates that residential Idaho water use is 168 gallons/capita/day (gpcd); nearly twice the United State average residential water use of 89 gpcd.  The high residential use in Idaho suggests there are significant indoor and outdoor residential water efficiency opportunities in Idaho.

For many Idaho municipalities, indoor and outdoor water efficiency improvements are projected by the Idaho Department of Water Resources to be 30 - 50% or more.  

Municipal case studies from arid regions in the western United States demonstrate that water efficiency can provide cost savings and other benefits, plus some challenges for water and wastewater operations.  Benefits include smaller potable and wastewater infrastructure (treatment, distribution, collection, etc.), energy savings, water supply for future growth, drought resilience, and significant cost saving to rate payers.

Challenges include decreased sewer collection line flows, solids accumulation, increased hydrogen sulfide generation, and corrosion and increased bacterial levels in residential and commercial building potable water systems that are not properly designed or have long residence times.  

As the Draft Sustainability Section for the State Water Plan proposed by the Idaho Department of Water Resources points out: "Stewardship of Idaho’s water resources begins with the realization that the water resources of the State are not inexhaustible and therefore it is necessary to manage, administer, and take action to sustain, maintain and enhance the resource."  

AIC is gathering input and perspectives on the various water supply issues facing Idaho municipalities and is planning a Water Summit for October 25th.  For more information, please visit the AIC Calendar or contact 



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LHTAC has Additional FY2017 LHSIP Funding Available

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 13, 2016

One-Time Special Application
Submittal Deadline: November 4, 2016

Due to an increase in available federal dollars, LHTAC has been authorized to distribute an additional $2.5M of the state HSIP funds through the Local Highway Safety Improvement Program (LHSIP), a program administered through LHTAC. This increase is a one-time allotment specifically designated for expenditure on FY 2017 LHSIP projects. Eligibility for the LHSIP is based on Local Highway Jurisdictions (LHJs) with a Fatal and Serious Injury (Type A) crash from 2011-2015. LHJs with at least one Serious Injury (Type A) or Fatal crash over the last five years are eligible to apply. LHJs that qualify for this additional funding will be identified by LHTAC and notified. Depending on the type of project a local match may be required, not to exceed 7.34%.

Projects funded by this additional one-time funding application will need to have construction dollars obligated on or before August 1, 2017. To insure this, Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (PS&E) submittals for these project will be required to be submitted to LHTAC by July 1, 2017.

Additional information on this FY17 LHSIP One-Time Funding can be found below in the application packet or on the LHSIP page on our website

LHTAC FY17 LHSIP One-Time Funding Application Packet(PDF)


LHSIP funds can be used for design and/or construction. Due to the compressed design time frame for projects that will receive thisone-time funding, submitted applications will also be considered as FY 2019 scheduled LHSIP application submittals (due January 19, 2017). LHJs that submit an application for this one-time funding are still eligible to submit FY 2019 LHSIP applications. LHTAC will evaluate each application to determine the feasibility of completing the design phase within the constrained window of time.

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Innovative Bridge Construction - GRS-IBS Workshop

Posted By Seth Grigg, Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) is hosting a demonstration workshop for local street and highway jurisdictions near Jarome.

 Date: November 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Date: November 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Innovative Bridge Construction Workshop Flyer (PDF)

Two dates to choose from! 

The Local Highway Technical Assistance Council received funding to provide a demonstration workshop on Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System (GRS–IBS) bridge construction in southeast Idaho. The one-day workshop will include a morning of class instruction using FHWA experts and an afternoon of onsite observation of the construction. Participants can sign up for either the November 16th class or the November 17th class. The instruction will be the same on both.

GRS-IBS is an innovation to help reduce bridge construction time and cost. GRS-IBS projects can be built in weeks instead of months, due to the ease of construction and the use of readily available materials and equipment. Reduced construction schedule translates into less exposure around work zones improving safety. Idaho has adopted GRS-IBS as a focus for the state.

LHTAC will collect information from the workshop and site visit to compile “Best Management Practices for GRS-IBS Bridge Construction” material to distribute to locals in the future.

Those attending this workshop may be reimbursed at the federal per diem rate. The focus audience for this workshop is roadway supervisors, foreman and employees. Consultants may be able to attend if spots are not first filled by locals. Note: The grant will not cover the cost of consultants to attend.
The workshop will be held at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Twin Falls and the group will travel to a project site in Jerome. Transportation from the hotel to lunch and the job site will be provided.

Registration is open!

Please use the links below to register for one of the two dates our workshop is offered.  

November 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

November 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you have questions, need special travel or dietary arrangements please contact Dawn Christensen at 208-344-0565 or

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IDOG Hosting Open Government Workshops in Eastern Idaho

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

You, your staff, council members, elected or appointed officials, and employees who deal with public records or meetings are cordially invited to attend a seminar in eastern Idaho on Idaho’s key open government laws: The Idaho Open Meeting Law and the Idaho Public Records Law. It’s a chance to learn what is covered – and what is not – by these important laws, in a fun and accessible format. Presenters will include Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, and IDOG President Betsy Russell. The session is recommended by the Office of the Attorney General, the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Association of Counties, and the Idaho Press Club.

Enjoy the refreshments as you are entertained and educated about Idaho’s public record and open meeting laws; there is no charge. CLE credit is available for those who are attorneys.

Here are the dates and times:

WED. Oct. 19 – POCATELLO – Co-sponsored by ISU and the Idaho State Journal

Wood River Room, Pond Student Union, ISU, 921 W. 8th St. ~ 6-9:30 pm

RSVP to Courtney Lee,

 THURS. Oct. 20 – IDAHO FALLS – Co-sponsored by the Post Register

Longfellow Elementary, 2500 S. Higbee ~ 6-9:30 pm

RSVP to Monte LaOrange, 542-6795 or

IDOG, which stands for Idahoans for Openness in Government, is a non-profit coalition for open government whose mission is to promote open government and freedom of information. IDOG and Attorney General Wasden have been holding these sessions around the state since 2004; they are funded in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Please RSVP if you will attend, as space is limited. If you need more information, please feel free to call Betsy Russell at (208) 336-2854, or email me at

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New Arsenic Criteria Expected to Impact More Than 66 Idaho Municipal NPDES Permittees

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2016

EPA and Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) entered into a settlement agreement on the Idaho Arsenic water quality standards on May 19, 2016.  In response to the May settlement agreement, the EPA Region 10 issued a disapproval letter on September 15, 2016 to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (attached) disapproving both Idaho's most recent arsenic criteria of 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L) or 0.01 milligrams per liter (mg/L) and older criteria of 50 µg/L that EPA had never approved or rejected.  The May agreement requires EPA to:

  • review and issue permits in Idaho using Idaho’s approved designated uses and EPA’s current recommended Arsenic criteria (6.2 µg/L or 0.0062 mg/L for consumption of fish only and 0.02 µg/L or 0.00002 mg/L for consumption of fish and water)
  • including water quality based numeric permit limitations for Arsenic where needed
  • require additional monitoring where detectable concentrations of Arsenic are greater than 0.5 µg/L using sufficiently sensitive analytical methods, and
  • for permittees that cannot meet permit limits, the permit will include a compliance schedule and where appropriate, a treatability study

The "fish plus water" criteria will affect at least half of the NPDES permits statewide.  Preliminary review of the existing 135 EPA-issued Idaho municipal NPDES permits for drinking water treatment and wastewater permittees along with the receiving waters designated uses show that:

  •  66 permittees (49%) would be subject to the 0.02 µg/L Arsenic criteria:
  • facilities located primarily in the Henry’s Fork, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Payette, Snake, Clearwater, Paradise Creek, Big Lost, Kootenai, Big Wood, Selway, St Maries, Potlatch, Weiser and Salmon watersheds
  • 69 permittees (51%) would be subject to the 6.2 µg/L Arsenic criterion:
  • facilities located primarily in the lower Boise, Little Wood, South Fork Palouse, Portneuf, South Fork Clearwater, South Fork CdA, South Fork Teton, and tributaries/canals to major rivers across the state

Preliminary assessment of the ability of permittees to meet the new criteria suggests that many NPDES permittees, including all of the permittees required to meet the "fish plus water" 0.02 µg/L arsenic criteria and potentially some of the permittees required to meet the "fish only" 6.2 µg/L criteria, will face significant permitting requirements and actions.  

Primary concerns include the ability of treatment technologies to reliably meet the criteria, high capital and operation and maintenance costs, and negative operational and environmental impacts (additional energy, additional solids, brine disposal, additional treatment space, etc.).  A 2013 toxic(s) Treatment Technology Review and Assessment funded for Washington State found that, for arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls, no facilities currently treat to the revised human health water quality criteria; and that compliance with arsenic criteria of 0.018 or 0.02 µg/L appears unlikely. Click HERE for more information.

A statewide approach to the permitting and compliance issues raised by the May agreement would likely result in significant cost savings (i.e., implement one treatability study for the 66+ facilities and submit one statewide variance request; subsequently reducing the number of 401 certifications and variance reviews by EPA and IDEQ, etc.).  Benefits to a statewide approach also include increased consistency and technical rigor of the resulting treatability study. 

AIC will coordinate a statewide approach to address the limits, monitoring requirements, treatability study, and if needed, a variance request for EPA issued permits.  For additional information contact Johanna Bell at  or (208) 344-8594.

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AIC Fall District Academies Scheduled for November

Posted By Seth Grigg, Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Registration is now open for AIC's 2016 Fall District Academies for City Officials. AIC will hold meetingS throughout the state in November in an effort to make training and continuing education opportunities available for city officials throughout the state. Registration for the Fall Academies is $35 and includes lunch. You can register to attend an academy in your region by clicking the following link: All city officials are invited to attend. We hope you will join us.

Meetings will take place throughout the state at the following locations:

Wednesday, November 9th: Hilton Garden Inn, Idaho Falls (700 Lindsay Blvd.)

Thursday, November 10th: Idaho Central Credit Union, Chubbuck (4400 Central Way)

Monday, November 14th: Wyndam Garden Hotel, Boise (3300 S. Vista Ave.)

Tuesday, November 15th: Canyon Crest Event Center, Twin Falls (330 Canyon Crest Dr.)

Monday, November 28th: Coeur d’Alene Inn, Coeur d’Alene (506 W. Appleway)

Tuesday, November 29th: Red Lion Inn, Lewiston (621 21ST St.)

Training topics with descriptions include:

 Designating and Permitting Truck Routes within City Limits: As both the frequency of trips and the weight of commercial trucks operating in Idaho increase, it is important that cities coordinate with ITD and other stakeholders the designated routes within city boundaries that commercial trucks are permitted to operate on. Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC) staff will present on a pending ITD rule to allow local highway jurisdictions to work with ITD in jointly permitting trucks to operate on routes designated by a city council, resources available to cities interested in designated truck routes, and best practices in partnering with ITD to permit commercial trucks to operate within city limits.

Idaho’s Open Meeting Law: AIC staff will provide training on Idaho’s open meeting law, including information related to public notice, types of open meetings, developing agendas, roles of city officials in participating in open meetings, and penalties for failure to comply with the Idaho Open Meeting Law. The training on open meetings is intended to serve as the foundation for the remaining topics on the agenda.

Municipal Ordinances and Resolutions: AIC staff will provide a comprehensive overview of the ordinance and resolution development process, including the differences between an ordinance and a resolution, the constitutional and statutory grant of authority to cities to enact ordinances, best practices in developing and adopting ordinances, and best practices in developing and adopting resolutions.

How to Conduct Public Meetings: AIC staff will provide an overview of how to effectively conduct a public meeting or hearing, including the differences between a public meeting and a public hearing, the public notification process, the respective roles of city officials during a public hearing, how to help participants through the hearing process, and best practices in public hearing decision making.

Area of City Impact Planning: AIC Legal Counsel Jerry Mason will discuss with city officials the aspects of successful area of city impact planning, including the current law as it relates to area of city impact planning, judicial decisions affecting area of city impact planning, the necessary components of a successful area of city impact agreement, and the role of the city and county in ultimately developing and adopting the area of city impact ordinance.

Annexation: AIC Legal Counsel Jerry Mason will train city officials on why annexation is critical for the future growth and development of cities, discuss current Idaho law as it relates to annexation, discuss the political considerations that need to be factored when considering annexing new parcels, and recent legislative efforts that have surfaced to curtail city annexation authority.

Legislative Preview: AIC staff will discuss legislative hot topics likely to come before the 2017 Idaho Legislature, including funding for municipal stormwater systems, protection of municipal water rights, magistrate court funding, and transportation funding.

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