What is the Water Quality in Boise, Idaho?
Compared to other US cities over 50,000, Boise water quality ranks in the high-mid range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 29 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes. Arsenic is at extremely high levels: 720x health guidelines.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Boise water.
What’s in Boise water?
Here are the top 6 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Radium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
- Uranium – Potential effect: Cancer
These are six of the 29 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
12 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Boise have Lead contamination?
No, Boise does not currently have lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected from 2016 through 2018 showed concentrations of 0.0 parts per billion.
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be filtered out.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Boise’s water come from?
Boise’s water comes from the Crane Creek – Boise River watershed.
All 5 EPA assessed water sources in the Crane Creek – Boise River watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Boise River – Diversion Dam to Veterans Memorial Parkway
- Cottonwood Creek
- Stewart Gulch
- Warm Springs and Squaw Creeks
- Warm Springs Golf Course Lake
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Boise’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Boise can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 85.7% of contaminants in your drinking water.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in Boise water.
- Brita can filter 14 contaminants and Lead depending on the filter.
- This does not include Arsenic, Radium, or Uranium. Berkey does filter these.
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 26 of the 29 contaminants in your whole house, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your home.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- 1,4-Dioxane – “Exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.”
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Atrazine – herbicide
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Chromium (total)
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Tetrachloroethylene – health and safety
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
- Trichloroethylene – “sufficient evidence of cancer of the liver and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” [source]
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.cityofboise.org/government/ to find contact information for your local officials.