- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An environmental group has sent Ada County a notice of its intention to file a lawsuit over what it says are violations of the federal Clean Water Act involving an event center and horse racing track.

Idaho Rivers United on Wednesday sent the 60-day notice contending county officials failed to obtain a Clean Water Act permit to discharge stormwater into the Boise River at Expo Idaho, site of the Western Idaho Fair.

The group in a statement also said the county is violating the law because it doesn’t have a permit to discharge water from Les Bois Park, where horses are housed during the racing season.

“The Boise River is one of our most valuable natural resources and Ada County must do its part to protect water quality,” Kevin Lewis, the group’s conservation director, said in a statement. “Stormwater contains oil, bacteria, dirt, nutrients and other pollutants that impact public health, make it less safe to swim and degrade aquatic habitat and the popular Boise River fishery.”

Idaho Expo covers about 300 acres next to the Boise River and holds events throughout the year. Les Bois Park offers horse racing on a dirt oval track starting in May and going through August.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency includes the section of the Boise River that runs past Expo Idaho on a list that identifies the cause of impairment of that section as fecal coliform, which can cause digestive illnesses including vomiting, explosive diarrhea and respiratory problems.

“Ada County and Ada County Development Services have been working with the EPA, and will continue to work with the EPA, regarding County property at Expo Idaho,” Larry Maneely, chief of staff for the Ada County Board of Commissioners, said in an email.

Maneely said the county couldn’t comment on the notice sent by Idaho Rivers United because officials hadn’t received a copy.

Idaho Rivers United said various entities in the county have obtained Clean Water Act permits, including Boise State University, the cities of Boise and Garden City, and the Ada County Highway District.

But the group said Ada County hasn’t been transparent when it comes to obtaining a permit.

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