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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

Concerned about water quality? ND wants to hear from you

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Thursday, January 4, 2024   

In early January, some North Dakotans might be daydreaming about summer water activities but certain forms of pollution remain a threat to various waterways around the state, and officials want to hear residents' concerns in a new survey.

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality is crafting a new 10-year strategy as it responds to the latest and more pressing threats to surface water. The rollout includes an online survey where residents can identify which pollutants they are most concerned about, and which rivers and lakes they want protected.

Emily Joynt, environmental scientist for the department, said engaging people in the research could also convince them to help make a difference.

"Whether that's, you know, landowners participating in watershed projects or people assisting with monitoring activities if they're interested," Joynt outlined.

It includes creating more awareness about cost-sharing programs for conservation practices to reduce agricultural runoff. Joynt pointed out the department is keeping a close eye on the quantity of nutrients entering lakes and streams and their connection to harmful algal blooms. In its latest assessment, environmental quality experts cited runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations as one of the major sources of these nutrients.

The timing of the survey and any water quality concerns related to feeding operations coincides with a recent push by North Dakota to attract more livestock production. Meanwhile, there has been broader awareness about the threat of so-called "forever chemicals" stemming from the production of certain consumer products. Joynt noted the emerging issue is part of the survey.

"Our department does have a PFAS monitoring approach for not only groundwater and drinking water but also surface water now," Joynt emphasized. "We're starting to collect more PFAS data on water bodies across the state."

According to the latest data, the department said nine lakes around North Dakota are not suited for water recreation due to factors like excessive nutrient loading. Another 36 are threatened, and officials said if left unchecked, the lakes could reach a point where frequent algal blooms and excessive weed growth curtail activities like swimming or fishing.


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