READER’S VIEW THE BOISE RIVER
Plan for important resource needs some changes
The Statesman’s editors are right; the Boise River is invaluable and irreplaceable. Outside Magazine just named Boise one of America’s top 10 river towns, but we don’t need Outside Magazine to tell us that. The Boise River is, quite literally, in our blood.
Not only do we enjoy the best urban water playground in the world courtesy of the Boise River, we brew killer coffee and beer and make fine wine with water from the Boise River and its companion aquifer. We grow tomatoes, we golf and play soccer, we take showers, and we live in tree-shaded neighborhoods because of the Boise River.
There is nothing more important to the Treasure Valley than the Boise River and its companion aquifer which is why the Idaho Water Resource Board has drafted a water management plan for the Treasure Valley. The recommendations of this plan will shape the future of every community in the Treasure Valley.
Idaho Rivers United commends the board for tackling the challenge of planning for the future of the Boise River and offers three suggestions for improvement.
Drought planning should be the highest priority of the plan. Hard as it is to believe, there is no drought plan for the Treasure Valley. Drought happens, and climate science tells us that dry years are getting drier. When there’s less water flowing in the river, more water is pumped from the aquifer. Because the aquifer and the river are connected, more pumping reduces river flows even more. All water users, including the fish and birds that live in the Boise River suffer during drought, but the negative impacts of drought can be minimized or eliminated with good planning based on sound science.
To protect the Boise River, the plan should be amended to recommend a drought plan be developed within one year.
The plan needs to put more emphasis on reducing the amount of water we need by using water more efficiently. The water needs of our communities will change as population increases and farms make way for houses, businesses and schools.
We can meet the future water needs of our communities without sacrificing the Boise River if all users get serious about using water efficiently.
To protect the Boise River, the plan should be amended to recommend development of incentives to encourage water efficiency and adoption of penalties for wasting water.
Consideration of a new water storage dam on the Boise River should not be part of the plan. Most years there won’t be enough water to fill a new dam, and in high water years like this one, high flows perform vital channel work that’s key to a healthy Boise River. No one will like what happens to the Boise River if we eliminate spring high flows. A new or higher dam on the Boise River will ruin our invaluable and irreplaceable river without providing a reliable or affordable supply of water.
To protect the Boise River, the plan should be amended to delete recommended study of a new water storage dam.
The Idaho Water Resource Board is accepting comment on the draft Treasure Valley water management plan until Sept. 30. Visit their website or go to www.idahorivers.org for more information.
Liz Paul is the Boise River campaign coordinator for Idaho Rivers United.