Hoback Junction

Hoback Junction residents north of the Hoback River have been urged to periodically test their drinking water due to high levels of nitrates.

Health officials are seeking input from people in the southern stretches of Teton County about drinking water problems around Hoback Junction.

A steering committee that includes county officials, the Teton Conservation District and the Teton County Health Department released a survey Tuesday meant to determine the extent of the problems in the area and gauge the appetite for a communitywide solution.

The recently formed coalition of agencies will lead a stakeholder group that uses the results of the survey in selecting a solution.

The group will “look at ways to protect human health by developing recommendations that address drinking water safety issues,” a county press release said.

Residents of Hoback Junction, Hog Island and Camp Creek are invited to participate in the survey at TetonConservation.org/hobacksurvey, and the steering committee also plans to send it by mail to people in those areas. The survey asks questions about residents’ individual water sources, whether they would pay to join a community water system and if they want to be on the stakeholder committee.

“The purpose of the survey is to engage the community at a high level,” the press release states, “and to allow community members a formal opportunity to provide opinions on drinking water quality issues and volunteer for further engagement as a stakeholder.”

Officials are looking for 10 people to sit on the stakeholder committee and want to cut a wide demographic swath. Officials would like participants to include some people who live around Hoback Junction but also those who may have technical expertise germane to the water problems in Hoback, where some residents north of the Hoback River have seen high levels of nitrates in their drinking water.

The stakeholder group is set to meet four times and hold at least one public meeting in the next year. After that the group will make recommendations to the Conservation District Board of Directors and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners about selected solutions. Legacy Works Group has been hired to facilitate the steering committee and stakeholder group and lead the planning process.

Those who live in the selected areas but do not receive a survey, or who want to fill it out in person, can stop by the Conservation District office or the Health Department to pick up a hard copy. By both mailing the survey and having it available digitally, the committee hopes to ensure everyone who wants to chime in is able.

“A survey sounds arbitrary,” Conservation District Water Resource Specialist Carlin Girard said. “But it will help us get a whole lot of input right away. We’re hoping for a high level of engagement.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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