Health Advisory Issued for Brownlee Reservoir

Public Health Advisory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        

Health advisory issued for BROWNLEE RESERVOIR

Southwest District Health, Idaho Power, and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are issuing a health advisory for BROWNLEE RESERVOIR from the area near Mountain Man Resort including from Wolf Creek on the Idaho side to Canyon Creek on the Oregon side, urging residents to use caution when recreating in or near the water.

Recent samples taken from the water body indicate high concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria, which can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock. Those with liver or kidney damage are at an increased risk of illness.

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, their populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water. Blooms can vary in appearance, and may look like mats, foam, spilled paint, or surface scum, and have a foul odor.

When recreating near or in BROWNLEE RESERVOIR, take the following precautions while the advisory is in effect:

  • Avoid swimming, wading, or other activities. Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water.
  • Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water can increase the risk.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is being researched. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption. If people choose to eat fish from this area, filet the fish and remove all of the fat, skin, and organs before cooking.
  • Clean with potable water as soon as possible if water contacts skin or pet fur.

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider.

The public will be advised when it is likely the concern no longer exists.

For more information about harmful algal blooms and recreation water quality advisories, visit DEQ’s website at


DEQ Media Contact

Chase Cusack                        208.373.0490    

SWDH Media Contact

Katrina Williams                208.455.5317     

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Gem County Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus


Gem County Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes trapped in Gem County have tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquitoes carrying the virus in Gem County were trapped outside of the Gem County Mosquito Abatement District near the Payette County border. This area is not located inside a mosquito abatement district.

Residents are encouraged to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten. Precautions include draining any standing water on your property and wearing repellent when outdoors.

West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that is usually spread to animals and humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although most infections do not cause symptoms, one out of five who become infected with West Nile virus show symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph nodes, or a skin rash. These symptoms can last for only a few days, or may last for several weeks. Symptoms typically occur from 2 to 14 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. There is no specific treatment, but in more severe cases, people usually need hospitalization.

For more information on West Nile visit

Media Contact:
Katrina Williams
Southwest District Health
(208) 455-5317



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CALDWELL, IDAHO – Southwest District
Health (SWDH) and Southwest Idaho Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) are now in
preparation for Idaho READYKAMP 2019 to promote citizen preparedness among
local youth. The camp is designed for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders who
reside in Southwest Idaho and are interested
in learning how to help their families
and communities become
safer, stronger, and more
prepared in the case of an emergency. This is the sixth year for the camp.

“This preparedness camp empowers
our youth to serve as ambassadors of preparedness for their communities with
hands-on exercises, learning opportunities, and fun activities,” said Ricky
Bowman, Public Health Preparedness Manager for Southwest District Health. “Our
graduates are encouraged to share their newly acquired expertise with their
families, schools, and communities so that all are safer and better prepared if
disaster strikes,” he said.

Camp participants learn about
disaster preparedness, hazardous materials, fire safety, search and rescue,
water rescue, triage, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), first aid, emergency
radio communications, and terrorism.

Training modules are presented by
local first responders and experienced MRC volunteers using the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Teen Community Emergency Response Team
(CERT) curriculum. This emergency preparedness training is combined with
traditional summer camp activities, such as movie nights, camp fires,
marshmallow roasts, pizza parties, and field trips.

“Last year we
had 12 returning campers from the previous year said Jeff Cappe, ReadyKamp
Coordinator. “Their contribution was significant because they were able to
instill a level of trust and acceptance in the first year campers that an adult
in the same situation may not be able to accomplish. The campers were inspired
by the knowledge and leadership of the team leaders,” he added.

The campers participate in a
“mock” disaster exercise, using the skills and knowledge they have gained
during camp. Each camp participant is assigned a response role and functions as
a first responder. For 2018, the mock disaster scenario incorporated an explosion
in a high school basement.

The camp culminates with a graduation and awards dinner for the campers and their families. Last year, thirty-two successful graduates earned a diploma and received a preparedness backpack filled with emergency preparedness and response gear. Cappe added parents have noticed that in addition to basic response skills, their youth have also gained awareness for action planning, leadership, and teamwork.



Katrina Williams





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Road Closure

Florida Will Be Closed

Florida will be closed between Homedale Road & Karcher Road 5/28/19 – 6/7/19.  SWDH  Health will remain open.  Please access SWDH from Karcher Road.

The closure is planned to take place between 5/28/19 through 6/7/19, however the project start date may be delayed.  For more information about this and other projects,  Click Here to visit Canyon County Highway District No. 4 to get the latest construction updates.

Alternate Route

To avoid travel issues during the closure, take Karcher Rd to Florida to get to Southwest District Health.

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The Statewide Medical Countermeasure Full Scale Exercise

The statewide Medical Countermeasure Full Scale Exercise kicked off today! SWDH staff participated in a statewide conference call with the other six health districts and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for a situational briefing. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to respond and distribute medications to mass populations in an emergency scenario.

Watch our News section or follow us on Facebook for updates next week as the exercise ramps up.

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Free Nitrate Screening

For Private Well/Spring Owners

Southwest District Health will provide free testing for nitrate levels in drinking water for private well/spring owners at the following locations:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Caldwell Office – 13307 Miami Lane (corner of Hwy 55/Florida) – 9 AM 4 PM

Homedale Office – 132 East Idaho Street – 9 AM to 12 PM

Emmett Office – 1008 East Locust (near Hospital) – 9 AM to 12 PM

Payette Office – 1155 Third Ave North – 9 AM to 12 PM

Weiser Office – 46 West Court – 9 AM to 12 PM

Bring water sample in a clean container.  (No less than a pint, a quart is preferred)

If you wish to send a water sample to the State of Idaho Laboratory in Boise for further types of water testing, please bring in at least a quart of water.

If you want to have your water tested for total coliform and E coli bacteria, you will need to collect the sample in a special bottle that can be picked up at the health department.

The lab will send a bill for the cost of the water testing.

Commonly requested lab tests and prices:

  • Coliform bacteria/E coli – $18
  • Nitrate – $19
  • Nitrite – $19
  • Arsenic – $21
  • Fluoride – $19
  • Uranium – $44
  • Iron – $13
  • Manganese $13
  • Lead – $21

Please call 208-455-5400 if you have any questions.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        

Southwest District Health, in partnership with Lifeways Inc., is working on opening a crisis center which has been named the Western Idaho Community Crisis Center. The crisis center will serve adults in need of mental health and substance use disorder crisis services. The center will provide outpatient acute stabilization and connect people in need with community resources. Services will be provided for a maximum stay of 23hours/ 59 minutes and will be open 24/7 365 days a year. The center is located at 524 Cleveland Blvd., Suite 160, Caldwell, ID 83605. The crisis center is a key part of community integration which will allow those in crisis and with limited or no access to outpatient services an alternative to hospitalization and jail. Lifeways staff will assess each individual’s needs to ensure the crisis center is the best place for care for them. The center will be open in April 2019 and was made possible by the generous support and engagement of community members across the region.

Southwest District Health serves Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington Counties. They focus on preventing premature death and disability, protecting the population from emerging health threats, and promoting behaviors that contribute to healthier and longer lives. Lifeways is the largest behavioral health care provider in the region with over 300 employees. Lifeways is licensed to serve in Idaho and is certified to provide mental health and addiction services by the States of Oregon and Idaho.

The center is currently in need of donations to cover cost for items needed to become operational. For more information, please reach out to Cristina Froude at or by calling (208) 455-5373.

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