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Big Payette Lake is situated in the upper drainage of the Payette River, which drains into the Snake River in southwestern Idaho. The City of McCall is located near the outlet at the lake's southern end. Evidence of degraded water-quality and cultural eutrophication (the combination of human activity and pollution), prompted local residents to request a comprehensive water-quality study of the lake. The Idaho State Legislature responded by passing the Big Payette Lake Water Quality Act in 1993. The Act mandated the formation of a water-quality council that was tasked with developing a water-quality study of the lake and its watershed.
In the mid-1990s, the council requested that the USGS assist with portions of the water-quality study. Over the course of water years 1997 through 2003, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) and the USGS cooperatively funded water-quality monitoring of the lake. In 2004, the IDEQ conducted sampling on the lake. The IDEQ funded the USGS to complete water-quality monitoring of the lake in 2005-08. Funding for this study was discontinued in 2008.
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