A website dedicated to the Kootenai County Community
who depend on Greenferry Water and Sewer District for drinking water

The mission of Stakeholders: to protect Greenferry water from deadly and pending contamination

The Greenferry Water Crisis: February 2024 Update 

What we have learned so far:
Introducing sewage into public drinking water
can be a very complex process!

For over two years Greenferry Stakeholders have been asking county and state officials to grant equal protection for at-risk Greenferry water wells with the same subsurface sewage protection regulations as those enjoyed by all Kootenai County communities located over the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. These regulations stipulate that the minimum parcel size for a dwelling with a septic system must be 5 acres (the 5-acre Rule).

However, this request for equal protection of Greenferry wells has not been settled by local or state officials because the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality continues to rely upon an obsolete USGS Aquifer boundary map drawn for the 1978 Clean Water Act. This ancient boundary designation, conjectured with limited hydrogeological data of that day, uses the Spokane River as the southern SVRP boundary, leaving Greenferry wells (lying just a few meters outside of that boundary) totally unprotected by the 5-acre Rule.

By 1992, the EPA, the State of Idaho and the Panhandle Health District had repudiated the 1978 boundary in a informational flyer widely disseminated for public information. That flyer showed the actual SVRP boundary lies south of the Spokane River to include the Greenferry well area. Now, in the Twenty-first Century, the latest hydrogeological data produced by both the USGS (2005) and the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR), also show that Greenferry wells are indeed located inside of the actual real-life SVRP boundary and therefore qualify for protection of the 5-acre Rule.

In March 2022, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an emergency ordinance to preserve the 5-acre Rule until county staff could draft an amendment making this rule a part of the County’s Land Use and Development Code. The Board has declared that the emergency ordinance and the new Code ordinance are absolutely necessary for public health and safety, as well as for SVRP aquifer water protection.

While Greenferry wells remain in limbo, a real estate development group is seeking final county approval for the proposed Bayshore Estates Subdivision, to be sited in a 28-acre hayfield lying southwest adjacent to the Greenferry water wells. The shallow aquifer that feeds Greenferry wells lies directly under the proposed subdivision area. Because there is no sewer system available in the area, the proposed subdivision will require 57 septic tanks with drain fields to be dug into the 28 acres measuring only 1500 feet north/south by 800 feet east/west. This is 10 times the septic tank density allowed by the 5-acre Rule.

A Level 2 Nutrient-Pathogen Evaluation for the proposed subdivision has been completed and it confirms our worst fears!  For Greenferry water drinkers, here’s the problem in a nutshell:

1. Since 1992, three regulatory agencies in Idaho and two federal agencies have acknowledged that Greenferry Water and Sewer District wells are completed in the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer (SVRP Aquifer), sole source water extremely sensitive to contaminants and pollution.


2. Recent studies confirm that the SVRP Aquifer water table feeding the Greenferry wells is, in some areas, as shallow as about 108 feet in summer months.


3. Recent studies also confirm that fast-draining sandy soil above this shallow water table facilitates rapid downflow (an average of two to four feet per day) of surface pollutants heading towards ground water. Surface drainage into the Greenferry water table creates a volumetric recharge of approximately 10 inches per year.


4. The 57 septic systems in Bayshore Estates Subdivision would release into fast-draining soil over six million gallons of wastewater effluent each year.


5. As disease-laden septage drains into the water table, contaminant plumes will move northward by natural flow, and by well induction, towards Greenferry well pumps working only meters from the new drain fields clusters.


6. The latest public health information shows that this could not be a worse time to risk contaminating Greenferry wells with pathogenic septage, known to be a reliable indicator of COVID infections (and other communicable diseases) in the community.




7. Existence of Idaho laws that charge state and local regulators with the responsibility for safe public drinking water clearly forbid such a morbid threat to Greenferry wells. But political and economic factors are complicating the situation. While regulators remain at odds over SVRP Aquifer boundary designations, there are special interests and even regulators who would expose Greenferry water to the ravages of a filthy sewage disposal system, widely condemned in the Twenty-first Century.


Now Greenferry water drinkers are asking these questions:


Can a federal law mandating special protection for the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer backfire to jeopardize the Greenferry wells?
Can an obsolete aquifer boundary line, discredited over decades by numerous federal, state and local documents, force thousands of people to pay for and drink sewage-endangered water for years to come?
Can regulators legally deprive the Greenferry Water Community of equal protection under Idaho clean water laws?

  Currently the fate of Greenferry water lies in the hands of:

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
Panhandle Health District 1 (PHD)
Three Kootenai County Commissioners (BOCC)
Five Greenferry Water and Sewer District Board members


All of these entities declare that clean drinking water for Idaho is a foremost priority! Yet, these officials are poised to approve the proposed Bayshore Estates Subdivision which threatens drinking water vital to a thousand Greenferry water customers.


Will officials ultimately protect the public health or yield to
developer profits and urban sprawl at any cost?


For the Public Record:
Documented Facts About the MAJOR Threat to Greenferry Water

CDA Press Articles
on SVRP Aquifer

Note: The map shows Greenferry well area within SVRP!  We are the blue pucker hanging south of the River just south of Post Falls.

SEPT 9, 2022 >>
AUGUST 19, 2022 >>
APRIL 3, 2021 >>