Water-quality impairment in the lower Boise River is associated with excess phosphorus. In cooperation with the Department of Environmental Quality, we have provided numerical models to assist resource managers with their understanding of how the river would respond to phosphorus reduction strategies.
New Tools to Address Boise River's Phosphorus Problem
In rivers, excess phosphorus can promote vegetation growth including algae (left) and periphyton (right). Both can reduce water quality and impair aquatic habitat.
To develop the model, USGS personnel collected water-quality samples at many sites in the Boise River watershed on three different occasions. This approach gave us an in-depth snapshot of the river's health at key times of the year.
Phosphorus enters the river from point and nonpoint sources. Along the Boise River, output from point sources is regulated. Nonpoint sources are not. Our model takes both sources into consideration.
Resource managers will use our model to evaluate phosphorus-reduction strategies for point and nonpoint sources. The target is 0.07 mg/L where the Boise and Snake Rivers converge.
What's Up Upstream?
At home or on the go, you can access real-time information about Idaho's water resources provided by the USGS.
USGS WaterWatch (shown at right) provides a statewide snapshot of streamflow conditions compared to historical data for this date.
USGS WaterAlert lets you set conditions you want to know about (flow, level, temperature) to receive text or e-mail alerts when those conditions are met.
USGS WaterNow lets you query a USGS monitoring station and receive a return text with current conditions at that station.
Check out this fact sheet about these and other web-based tools from the USGS.
Our Latest Publications
Groundwater Level and Nitrate Concentration Trends on Mountain Home Air Force Base, Southwestern Idaho
This presentation given to the U.S. Air Force summarizes water-level and nitrate concentration data collected at Mountain Home Air Force Base primarily between 2001 and 2013.
For nitrate concentrations, 3 of the 17 wells monitored (18 percent) show an increasing trend, 3 wells (18 percent) show a decreasing trend, and 11 wells (64 percent) show no trend. Six wells (35 percent) currently exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contaminant limit of 10 milligrams per liter for nitrate (nitrite plus nitrate, measured as nitrogen).
Geochemistry of Groundwater in the Beaver and Camas Creek Drainage Basins, Eastern Idaho
- dilution and evaporation (physical process)
- water-rock interaction (natural chemical process)
- surface-infiltration of cations and anions from fertilizers, road salt, and/or anti-icing liquid (anthropogenic chemical process)
In this report, USGS hydrologist Gordon Rattray applied geochemical modeling to investigate the important processes influencing the geochemistry of groundwater in the Beaver and Camas Creek drainage basins. These basins are located in the eastern Snake River Plain aquifer northeast of the Idaho National Laboratory.