Water Renewal Services is the city’s utility responsible for renewing more than 10 billion gallons of used water (commonly known as wastewater) per year. From the shower to the kitchen sink and toilet, from homes to businesses, large industry to hospitals and schools, every drop of used water travels through some of the more than 900 miles of underground pipes to one of two water renewal facilities.
Since 1949, all Boise's used water has been cleaned to a high level, then put in the Boise River just to flow downstream and out of our community. Seeing on the horizon changing water regulations, rate affordability, the condition of our infrastructure, the capacity in our system and the impacts of climate change, in 2017, the city began an effort to consider what our water future could look like if we prioritized local-level solutions, planned for water scarcity and balanced the values of our diverse and ever-growing community.
The Water Renewal Utility Plan is the result of that effort, integrating thousands of pieces of public input, technical evaluations, and comprehensive analyses of the regulatory, affordability and environmental implications for the future of how we collect, clean, and recycle water in our community.
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Like any business, a long-term plan is key to success. While we are federally mandated to have a plan, to us it’s more than a requirement. It’s a way to look ahead and set a strategic direction for our Water Renewal Services and at its core is designed to answer these questions:
How will we ensure the infrastructure that safely cleans our water and protects our public health remains in proper condition?
How will we meet the increased needs of our community as we continue to grow, and new regulations reduce efficiency?
Regulatory Requirements & Climate Change
How do we plan for known and unknown federal and state water quality mandates? How do we adapt our utility in response to a changing climate?
Do we only meet the minimum required by law or rise to meet the environmental priorities of our community? How do we balance this with rate affordability?
Boiseans are encouraged to review the information and provide comments and feedback that will be collected and presented to City Council. Key dates are below:
Tuesday, September 15 – City Council Public Hearing
Comments can be submitted through September 25th to have city staff include them in the official final report submitted to City Council. Use the button below.
City Council is scheduled to vote on the utility plan on October 13th and comments can be emailed directly to City Council until the vote. email city council
Sometimes important changes can happen from the place you least expect. As our city faces challenges from climate change, growth and aging infrastructure, the service that you use every single day, but likely don’t think about often, is adapting to find solutions. Water Renewal Services has always protected public health and our environment by treating the used water from homes, businesses and industry every day, and that will never change. But nearly five years ago, we set out to look at things differently. We found that not only can we do more, but we heard loud and clear that you expect us to do more.
We collect 30 million gallons of used water every day. From that, we produce clean water that gets put into the Boise River to flow downstream. To help solve some of the challenges we face, we looked at nearly every option, turned over every rock, and developed a spectrum of ideas from keeping the status quo and continuing to put all that water into the river, to highly purifying the water for drinking and everything in between. We set out with several rounds of community involvement, collecting thousands of pieces of feedback from Boiseans, coupled with a robust and comprehensive business case evaluation that included detailed technical, risk and financial analyses to narrow down the options. Then we “stress tested” those options for different future planning scenarios like climate change, economic downturn, shifting community values until we finally arrived at the Water Renewal Utility Plan- a plan that provides the lowest-cost option while still meeting our unique community values. This is not a cookie-cutter plan, rather it is a plan built for Boise, by Boise. Here’s a snapshot of what the plan proposes:
We heard from our community that the Boise River means everything:
Enhance the health and uses of the Boise River through restoration projects and increased water renewal
Our community said that reliability is key, the system needs to work:
Reinvest in our existing infrastructure by repairing, replacing and upgrading crucial system components
We heard that we should be using the right water for the right purposes:
Support our local economy by establishing an industrial water reuse program to take the water they give us in their processes, treat it and turn it right back around for them to use again
We heard that we should recycle our water in new and different ways:
Develop a recycled water program and recharge our aquifer for future use
We heard that resiliency in our system is critical and we need to mitigate risks by decentralizing our infrastructure:
Add two new water renewal facilities
We heard that balancing all the above with the ability to pay is important:
Create new affordability programs and explore new options to pay for improvements
We encourage you to read the plan and tell us what you think. Your comments will be shared with city council, and you can attend a public hearing on September 15.