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Boise City Council approves water renewal utility plan

The plan suggests infrastructure improvements, additional wastewater facilities to increase capacity and more ambitious initiatives such as wastewater recycling.
Credit: Brian Myrick / Idaho Press
Wastewater flows through the treatment process at the city of Boise’s Water Renewal Services plant on Lander Street, Friday, May 31, 2019.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise City Council on Tuesday approved Public Works' Water Renewal Utility Plan, a federally mandated planning document that will guide future wastewater projects.

Years in the making and developed by Public Works' Water Renewal Services department, the utility plan suggests infrastructure improvements, additional wastewater facilities to increase capacity and more ambitious initiatives such as wastewater recycling.

"What we have before us is the framework for how we can go from where we are today to where we need to be 50 years from now in terms of water use, water renewal and how we think about water," said City Council President Elaine Clegg.

The Idaho Press reports the council unanimously approved the plan at Tuesday's council meeting.

The city is not beholden to any project suggested in the utility plan. Instead each future project must be brought to city council for approval.

"This plan is going to make sure we can flush our toilets for the next 50 years," said City Council Pro Tem Holli Woodings. "What we're doing here is really important."

Water Renewal Services is a utility within the city's Public Works Department that collects and renews 30 million gallons of used water every day. The utility operates on enterprise funds, meaning it funds operations and projects using service fees, not city tax revenue.

Projects suggested in the plan include upgrading aging infrastructure, such as the more than 70-year-old Lander Street Water Renewal Facility, which is undergoing renovations, and expanding wastewater capacity through new facilities. Additionally, Water Renewal Services hopes to complete projects to meet — or exceed — ever-increasing federal environmental standards and combat the effects of climate change.

The plan suggests the city pursue wastewater recycling, including establishing an industrial water reuse program, which could attract sustainability-minded companies to Boise and will increase the utility's wastewater capacity as used water is treated and given back to industrial sites. The other proposal involves recharging groundwater with recycled wastewater and storing it for future use.

The utility plan also recommends enhancing the health and uses of the Boise River beyond federal requirements that regulate pollutants and effluent temperature. Those enhancements could include restoration of animal habitats and additional water treatment at wastewater facilities.

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