The Snake River has been listed as America's #1 Endangered River of 2021. At the headwaters of the Snake, nearly 30% of Teton County residents rely on drinking water that violates EPA standards. It's time for community action.

Environmental Bulletin

Snake River: America’s #1 Most Endangered River

A hiker admires the view of the Snake River and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
A hiker admires the view of the Snake River and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

The Snake River is in the news again, this time national. From Washington DC, American Rivers, an organization that aims to “protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers, and conserve clean water for people and nature,” listed the Snake as the America’s #1 Most Endangered River of 2021. While the report focused primarily on the risk associated with dams downstream of Jackson Hole, which have devastating impacts on salmon runs and other natural stream ecology, it is up to Jackson Hole residents and visitors to steward the headwaters of this mighty river. Being good stewards not only preserves our beautiful river in the Tetons for the enjoyment of those locally, but also helps our downstream neighbors, who see the result of how well or poorly we treat the Snake River.

The headwaters of the Snake River in the Teton Mountains. Image from USGS.
The headwaters of the Snake River in the Teton Mountains. Image from USGS.

So far, we in and around Jackson are not doing enough to even protect water quality for ourselves. It would come as a surprise to most to know that, in one of the wealthiest counties in America, with an average home value close to $2million, nearly 30% of the county’s population is served by drinking water systems that violate EPA standards. The major sources of this water pollution are the 3,600 under regulated septic systems in Teton County, which struggle to adequately treat wastewater in the shallow, loose soils and high water-table of our county. This allows direct contact between poorly-treated wastewater and groundwater that moves quickly downstream, where it either finds its way into surface waters like our rivers and ponds or into our drinking water supply.

It is time to do more for our rivers for our own good, and for the benefit of our neighbors. In an area with such rapidly moving groundwater and sensitive ecology, nobody should be relying on antiquated septic systems when better systems are available and ready for installation. We need to act quickly to update our waste management. But, with the homes dispersed so widely throughout the valley, municipal sewer may be years, or even decades away. In the meantime, untreated human waste is flowing into the Fish Creek, Flat Creek, the Snake River, and every other body of water down gradient of houses.

That’s where SOSystems can help. Our advanced treatment septic system, LooLoop, treats human waste before it comes in contact with the groundwater, eliminating up to 95% of the harmful pollutants that plague our drinking water and waterways. Systems can be installed quickly and efficiently, so we can start protecting what matters most immediately. It is time to act to keep the Snake River clean for our neighbors, for ourselves, and for generations to come. Contact us to find out why our solution is right for Jackson Hole!

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