The Boise WaterShed

September 15, 2018 - Renewing Our Water

The Boise WaterShed Environmental Education Center opened in May 2008 and was created through a partnership between the City of Boise and Boise WaterShed Exhibits, Inc., a local non-profit organization.  Located at the West Boise Water Renewal Facility, the center is the City’s first LEED-certified building and Idaho’s first water education center.  The Boise WaterShed is designed to promote water stewardship by teaching people of all ages how to protect and conserve our precious resource for future generations. The education programs exist to build awareness and to inspire personal responsibility and behavior change to protect and conserve our natural resources. 

Group of people posing in a large section of pipe
The livability ambassadors are standing inside an example of the pipe that transports water
Group of people in hardhats
Livability ambassadors inspected the Class A struvite fertilizer the City of Boise creates
Woman in hard hat holding up example for class
Aimee Hughes, our water education coordinator at Boise WaterShed
What Makes This Facility Important?

The City of Boise must be diligent and proactive in educating residents about water resources. As a high-desert city, water will continue to be an increasingly valuable resource, and education is a key component in conservation and protecting water quality. The WaterShed was originally created to bridge the divide between the everyday uses of water and the real impact that use has. Additionally, the WaterShed was designed to bring Water Renewal Facilities into the forefront. Traditionally, Wastewater treatment plants around the country have been hidden away, out of sight, out of mind. As critical infrastructure to our city, and an operation that utilizes so much innovation, the WaterShed was a unique tool to introduce residents to the vital work that takes places every day.

Innovation and Creativity

The Watershed is home to the largest collection of public art in the state of Idaho. By tying together water, art and education, the public art provides a new and exciting lens through which to view our community’s water and attracts a broader group of visitors. Completed in 2016 and acting as the outdoor portion of the WaterShed, the 2-acre outdoor River Campus presents a new dimension to water education with exterior exhibits that show the big picture of the Treasure Valley’s water resources.  Presented to simulate the workings of the Lower Boise Watershed, the interactive, walk-able, park-like setting takes visitors on a journey from Luck Peak Reservoir, through Boise’s urban streets, and the Water Renewal Facility.  From here they watch cleaned water returned to the Boise River and see it flow downstream to the agricultural zone that sustains our food industry.  Ultimately, visitors realize that what we do upstream not only affects downstream users, but also the overall health of the Snake River.

What Lies Ahead

A major challenge and opportunity is how to continue to encourage and draw Boise residents to the WaterShed. We know that visitors come out with a new perspective on water in their community after their visit. One idea that has been discussed is to offer some sort of incentive, such a potential discount on a resident’s utility bill for touring facility

Another ongoing challenge is to continue to dispel the ick factor of visiting a Water Renewal Facility. Admittedly, it will never go away for everyone. Yet the more we can break down the initial reaction and move past the reluctance, we can begin to have a deeper more meaningful conversation with residents about all the vital work that takes place at these innovative facilities.

Visit the Boise WaterShed

Interested in visiting the Boise WaterShed? Visit Boise Environmental Education for more information.

VISIT BOISE WATERSHED

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