Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

How Your Community Can Prevent Pollution

Air Quality

Vehicle exhaust is a major source of air pollution in Idaho. Everyone can help prevent air pollution through good driving habits.  The best way to reduce vehicle emissions is by driving less.

Internal Operations

  • Encourage your employees to carpool, combine trips, ride the bus, or bike/walk to destinations when possible.
  • Maintain your fleet vehicles to increase efficiency.  Get regular tune-ups and properly inflate tires.
  • Drive at moderate speeds.
  • Consider fuel efficiency, alternative fuel capability, or even hybrid vehicles when purchasing new vehicles.
  • Properly maintain small engines, such as lawnmowers, and consider emissions when purchasing new equipment.

Public Policy and Leadership

  • Support new developments that promote pedestrian traffic through the inclusion of sidewalks, pathways, and crosswalks.
  • Encourage alternative transportation by developing regional or local bus programs and bike lanes.
  • Consider passing a local ordinance to restrict or prohibit open burning.  Smoke from open burning pollutes the air with fine particles and gases that may cause health problems or reduce visibility.

Waste Minimization

The best way to manage wastes is to reduce or eliminate them in the first place.

Internal Operations

  • Use fewer materials.
    • Print double-sided.
    • Remove unnecessary light bulbs, such as those near windows.
    • Buy products with minimal packaging.
  • Use a different technology, process, or productthat produces less waste or uses less energy.
    • Retrofit lighting.  Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones.
    • Purchase energy-efficient equipment such as copiers and computers that power down when not in use.
    • Purchase wisely.  Hazardous wastes, such as unused cleaning supplies, fertilizers, and paint, require extra care.  When purchasing these types of products, look for less toxic varieties, such as citrus cleaners. 
  • Reuse wastes.
    • Use shredded paper (that you would have shredded anyway) as packing instead of purchasing packing "peanuts."
    • Compost grass clippings or use composting mowers.
    • Reuse and recycle solvents, oils, and antifreeze from maintenance shops.
  • Recycle wastes that cannot be reused.
    • Consult DEQ's Online Recycling Directory for information on recycling facilities and services.

Public Policy and Leadership

  • Help citizens reduce waste through developing and supporting user-friendly recycling and household hazardous waste collection programs.  Check DEQ's Online Recycling Directory for places that will accept hazardous wastes.
  • Consider providing a hazardous waste exchange where individuals can bring in a hazardous waste (e.g., a partially used can of paint) and take home a different produce that someone else brought (e.g., a half-full bag of fertilizer).

Note:  The laws and rules regarding generating, storing, transporting, recycling, and disposing of hazardous wastes are stringent. As a governing body, you are required to comply with state and federal hazardous waste laws. Be sure to carefully review the laws before embarking on any hazardous waste programs for your community. 

Water Quality

Work to protect both the quantity and quality of your water.

Internal Operations

Take measures to protect water at your own facilities.

  • Repair leaks as soon as they are discovered and install low flush toilets in public facilities.
  • Use xeriscape techniques when landscaping to conserve water and to serve as an example for others.
  • Use water sparingly where watering is necessary and water at night or in the early morning.
  • Avoid over-applying fertilizers and pesticides as excess quantities can end up in ground or surface water.

Public Policy and Leadership

Encourage water conservation in your community.

  • Educate your citizens and businesses about wise use of their water resources.
  • Stencil storm drains that drain into local rivers and waterways.
  • Develop an education program for industrial wastewater.

Best Management Practices to Control Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runoff is a major source of water pollution. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away pollutants such as sediment, chemicals and toxics and deposits them into nearby surface waters. Control of polluted runoff can be a complex process. The effectiveness of many management practices is determined by a variety of factors such as land use, site conditions, cost, and maintenance requirements.

Changes in land use also can drive changes in local water quality. As the natural landscape is urbanized, the water cycle is shifted from its natural balance to more impervious areas that cannot effectively absorb or infiltrate rainfall into the soil, such as roads, streets, parking lots, rooftops, sidewalks, etc.

Communities throughout Idaho are encouraged to use site and watershed planning to integrate the broader application of comprehensive design principles that preserve the integrity of natural landscapes. Comprehensive and integrative land-use planning, when combined with natural engineering techniques, helps to preserve and enhance natural processes and/or features present on a site. This combined planning and engineering approach minimizes adverse environmental impacts and maximizes economic benefits in a community. Many of these measures also can enhance local ordinances by encouraging greater flexibility in the land development process.