Big Payette Lake Water Quality Council

Our Projects

Lake Water Quality Studies

The Council is supporting graduate research studies on near-shore water quality, shoreline erosion, and wave and wake effects in Payette Lake conducted by the University of Idaho and Western Colorado University.

What do we hope to learn? First, whether shoreline erosion may be degrading water quality in Payette Lake. Second, are sufficient safeguards and regulations in place to protect and sustain our water quality – efforts like correct, science-based wake zones, enforcement of boating and zoning regulations, and adequate agency monitoring of water quality criteria. Third, if we do see real problems, what solutions should be proposed?

Algae proliferation appears to be an increasing problem in Payette Lake during warm weather months, and the summer of 2020 brought many complaints from recreationists and homeowners about bad smell and taste, and thick, green granular algae (presently identified as volvox) in many areas of the lake, as in the photo at left. This has been a wake-up call to learn more about causes and how we should respond to reverse this apparent trend. Along with the U of I study, adequate funding of IDEQ lake monitoring will be needed to understand what’s happening and take action

State Endowment Lands and Watershed Governance

The Council is working with partner organizations, local jurisdictions, concerned residents and agencies to come to practical solutions for protecting the watershed of Payette Lake from a selloff of State endowment lands and subsequent large-scale private development.

Most of the Payette Lake watershed is on public land, and water – almost always – flows downhill. We must insure that public land managers put the health and sustainability of Payette Lake first, through good planning, good practices, public involvement and careful coordination.

A watershed-wide approach to water quality governance and land use by local citizens and stakeholders is under development for presentation to the Department of Lands and Land Board. We will stay engaged to get the best possible outcome for our watershed.