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The major aquifers in Idaho are categorized under two rock types, sedimentary and volcanic, and are grouped into six hydrologic basins. Areas with adequate, minimally adequate, or deficient data available for groundwater-quality evaluations are described.
Wide variations in chemical concentrations in the water occur within individual aquifers, as well as among the aquifers. The existing data base is not sufficient to describe fully the ground-water quality throughout the State; however, it does indicate that the water is generally suitable for most uses. In some aquifers, concentrations of fluoride, cadmium, and iron in the water exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking-water standards. Dissolved solids, chloride, and sulfate may cause problems in some local areas. Water-quality data are sparse in many areas, and only general statements can be made regarding the areal distribution of chemical constituents. Few data are available to describe temporal variations of water quality in the aquifers.
Primary concerns related to special problem areas in Idaho include (1) protection of water quality in the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer, (2) potential degradation of water quality in the Boise-Nampa area, (3) effects of widespread use of drain wells overlying the eastern Snake River Plain basalt aquifer, and (4) disposal of low-level radioactive wastes at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
Shortcomings in the ground-water-quality data base are categorized as (1) multiaquifer sample inadequacy, (2) constituent coverage limitations, (3) baseline-data deficiencies, and (4) data-base nonuniformity.