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Idaho Power to pay $1.1 million fine over Clean Water Act, state permitting violations

July 1, 2022 Updated Fri., July 1, 2022 at 8:52 p.m.

Idaho Power produces electricity at the Swan Falls Dam south of Kuna.  (John Sowell/Idaho Statesman)
Idaho Power produces electricity at the Swan Falls Dam south of Kuna. (John Sowell/Idaho Statesman)
By Nicole Blanchard Idaho Statesman

Idaho Power will pay nearly $1.1 million in fines after Clean Water Act permitting violations at multiple Snake River hydroelectric facilities, according to a news release from Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Idaho Power earlier this year voluntarily submitted a document to the department that detailed oil and gas discharges, temperatures, pH data and other information at facilities in Southern and Central Idaho. Idaho Power told the Associated Press it self-reported the data in anticipation of changing policies and to proactively protect the environment.

The Department of Environmental Quality found the sites described in the document were in violation of the federal Clean Water Act and Idaho’s water pollution permitting requirements. It filed complaints against Idaho Power in April.

Idaho Power previously had permits at the sites through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Associated Press reported in April. The permits authorize permit holders to discharge pollutants into waterways and ensure pollution is compliant with Idaho’s water quality standards.

In 2018, the state took over pollution permitting from the EPA and began issuing permits for hydroelectric facilities in 2019. Idaho Power had not obtained permits from the state.

Idaho Power was required to submit permits in compliance with the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, as well as pay civil penalties of $72,870 for each of the 15 hydroelectric facilities found to be out of compliance. The total penalty totaled just under $1.1 million.

The 15 non-permitted facilities were in Ada, Gooding, Jerome, Owyhee, Power, Twin Falls and Valley counties.

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