Dixie Drain Phosphorous Removal Facility

June 16, 2018 - The Quality of Our Water

The next Livability Ambassador excursion was a longer drive, as the ambassadors made their way to Parma, ID.  Josh Baker, engineer with the City of Boise provided an overview of water quality, the role the city plays in treatment and how Dixie Drain and phosphorus removal are an integral part of keeping the Boise River healthy.

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What is the Dixie Drain?

The Dixie Drain Phosphorus Removal Facility is a precedent-setting and innovative project that is greatly enhancing water quality of the Boise and Snake Rivers by removing up to 140 pounds of phosphorus per day from water flowing downstream.

The new phosphorus removal facility was built at Dixie Drain (near the confluence of the Boise and Snake rivers) with goals including:

What Makes the Dixie Drain Unique

Environmental Return on Investment

For the same cost as upgrading facilities at the existing treatment plants, the Dixie Drain project removes much more phosphorus from the Boise and Snake Rivers.  Essentially, for every pound that is not removed at a treatment facility in Boise, a pound and a half is removed downstream at Dixie Drain.

Phosphorous Otherwise Untouched

Dixie Drain captures ground and surface water flows coming from agriculture operations. These discharges are unregulated and are estimated to contribute up to 40% of the total phosphorus flowing from the Boise and Snake rivers. If it were not for the Dixie Drain project, this significant phosphorus discharge would otherwise remain untouched.

Common Sense Location

Approximately 80% of the water treated at Boise’s treatment plants is diverted downstream for irrigation. With the Dixie Drain project, the phosphorus is removed at a location where there are no further diversions for irrigation and additional loading of phosphorus.

Man speaking to group
Josh Baker, an engineer with the City of Boise details some of the water pumps.
Group looking over railing
Ambassadors photograph the outfall, where newly cleaned water prepares to enter back into the Drain.
Group standing on bridge
Ambassadors at the Dixie Drain, which removed 140 lbs of phosphorous per day

Added Benefit

In addition to phosphorus being removed from the rivers, sediment levels are also greatly reduced, improving not only river aesthetics, but improving habitat for fish and aquatic life.

Lasting, Innovative, & Vibrant

Lasting environments and vibrant communities will take continued collaboration and innovation. Eight years in the making, Dixie Drain serves as an important milestone and example of what dedication, hard work and partnership can accomplish.

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