Monday, October 9, 2017

BLOG: Beautiful Boise

by Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

It's pronounced "Boy-see" NOT "Boy-zee." It was one of the original pilot communities involved in the Groundwater Guardian program, and has been designated every year since 1994. It's also the host of the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference.


It has a population of over 250,000 and its nickname is the City of Trees. In fact, According to oral history, French-Canadian fur trappers named Boise in the early 19th century. The trappers, after crossing the hot, dry desert, crested a hill and, gazing down up on the woods surrounding the Boise River, exclaimed “Les bois! Les bois!” (“Woods! Woods!”). Fort Boise was established in July of 1863 to keep peace in the mining camps and to protect the Oregon Trail pioneers from Indian raids. The City of Boise was established quickly and served as a service center for gold and silver miners in the nearby mountains and foothills. The wooded Boise River is now the scenic backdrop for a beautiful and popular greenbelt path and so many species of trees have been planted that today Boise is known as the “City of Trees.” 

Boise is home to a number of interesting and unique attractions, including:

Basque Museum and Cultural Center (208-343-2671, 611 W. Grove St.)
Boise is home to the largest concentration of Basques per capita in the U.S., and Boise also has North America’s only Basque museum, the internationally renowned Oinkarl Basque Dancers and authentic Basque eateries.


Esther Simplot Park (614 N Whitewater Park Blvd.)
An expansive 55-acre site encompasses approximately 23 acres of ponds suitable for fishing, wading and swimming. The park features include trails, docks, wetlands, boardwalks, shelters, grassy open areas, a playground, bridges and restrooms. A meandering stream will connect the park’s two ponds with Quinn’s Pond. It is the most recent addition to the “Ribbon of Jewels”—a string of riverside parks named for prominent local women. 


Boise River Greenbelt (208-384-4240, multiple starting points, including Kathryn Albertson Park) 
The 25- mile riverfront Greenbelt, ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling, skating and general relaxing, meanders through Boise. The paved pathway connects several parks throughout the city. 

World Center for Birds of Prey (208-362-8687, 5668 W. Flying Hawk Ln.) 
Visitors can see rare falcons and eagles up close and the inner workings of an endangered species program. This unique center on the outskirts of Boise is the most sophisticated facility in the world for breeding and releasing birds of prey

Snake River Valley Wine Region 
There are nearly 30 Idaho wineries within a 45 minute drive of downtown Boise. Ten wineries and vineyards are located in the Southwest Idaho Urban Wine District. The region boasts award-winning wines and innovative wineries. Lush orchards, scenic valleys and rugged mountains provide the perfect backdrop for wine tasting.

Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial (208-345-0304, 777 S. 8th St.) 
This memorial is an example of what can happen when a community and an entire state come together for a cause. The first in the U.S. to honor Anne Frank, it offers lessons on courage, strength, dignity of human spirit and the value of human rights for all men and women, and it will have a lasting impression on those who visit. 

Table Rock (Southeast of downtown Boise) 
This prominent local landmark is a popular spot for hikers and outdoor adventurers. Table Rock offers challenging hiking and mountain biking trails, and is easily accessible from the Old Idaho Penitentiary parking lot. Offering stunning views of the Boise skyline, foothills and the Treasure Valley, Table Rock is a favorite among trail enthusiasts. 

Idaho Botanical Garden (208-343-8649, 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd.) 
Located in Boise’s Old Penitentiary historical district, the Idaho Botanical Gardens enhances the community’s quality of life by promoting a love of nature, and offering an enriching garden experience through educational programs, botanical collections, a variety of entertainment, cultural and community events. 


Idaho State Capitol Building (208-334-2475, 700 W Jefferson St.) 
Idaho’s Capitol Building is the only one in the United States heated by geothermal water. The hot water is tapped and pumped from a source 3,000 feet underground. Geothermal energy has a long history in Boise starting back in the late 1800s.


Join us and be in Boise for the 2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference! Come early and stay late to enjoy all that Boise has to offer. We hope to see you soon!

Find out more about Boise at www.boise.org.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {How to Read a Water Bill}

Water bills can be a little confusing when you are first learning to read them and, while it is easy to identify how much you have to pay for the current billing period, other information may vary in name and format from place to place.  So whether you have moved to into a new home or you are looking at your very first water bill, here’s some useful tips on reading it so that you can save money, and water, in the future.

1. Meter Class.  The class off the water meter indicates at what flow rate the water meter meets the common accuracy features.  Classes of water meter range from low (small, Class A meters, used in most residences) to high (Class D) degrees of accuracy at detecting very low flow rates.



2. Average Daily Consumption (ADC).  The ADC is an average of your water consumption over the course of the billing period.  On average, the ADC per person is 55 gallons.  If you track your usage with ADC, you can detect leaks earlier or proactively work to reduce your water use.


3. Consumption History.  Your utility bill may be nice enough to include a handy graph or chart with your water bill, essentially tracking your usage for you.  Again, this may help you detect leaks or identify times of the year where you need to make more of an effort to reduce water consumption.

4. Meter Readings in CCF.  Your water provider wants to accurately bill you for the water you use and will usually check your meter once every one to two months.  In some places, conditions may prevent Utility personnel from reading your meter and instead, they use your consumption history to estimate your total water usage.  If your meter reading is an estimate, you can request someone to come out and obtain an actual meter reading. Meter readings are taken by subtracting the volume at the end of a billing period from the volume at the beginning of that same billing period.  Water usage is measured in CCF, or 100 cubic feet. In this sample water bill, the meter registered 8 CCF, or 800 cubic feet, of wastewater and 0 CCF of yard water during the course of the billing period.

5. Sewer Fee, Stormwater Fee, Environmental Initiative Fees. These will be listed towards the bottom of your bill, including your city’s landfill or refuse service fee. These are fees that allow the city to maintain existing water and sewer systems and potentially build new ones.  There may be additional fees such as “flush” taxes that allow cities and states to develop wastewater treatment facilities or CAP (customer assistance programs) that collect funding to assist with the cost of well-closures or water expenses for low-income households.

Check out your water bill today and try to identify these 5 pieces of information.  Now you know how you can use your water bill and start saving money and water.

BLOG: Groundwater in a Climate-Changed World

by Pat Mulroy, Non-resident Senior Fellow for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy for The Brookings Institution and Practitioner in Residence for the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law

When I began my career in water in the mid-1980’s, the very first issue we had to contend with was a groundwater table that had been so over-drafted in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s that subsidence was causing houses to slip off their foundation. Previous generations had fooled themselves into believing the issuance of temporary water rights to avoid connecting to the Colorado River would not have an affect, but it did. After many years and millions of dollars in recharge efforts we were able to stabilize the groundwater table.  

Yes, experience has taught us the risks of unchecked pumping. However, even today there are areas where there is still an inordinate reliance on natural groundwater and the fears of the wells running dry mount every year. There are also areas that engage in “panic pumping” when drought has ravaged surface supplies or the courts have curtailed surface water diversions (or in the case of California, both).

As the effects of a warming planet really begin to take hold we are seeing surface water supplies evaporate at elevated rates and flood events that are scouring the countryside.  “Normal” weather patterns are very much in our rear view mirror. If there has ever been a time for conjunctive management of water resources it is now. There exist already great examples of created groundwater banks that are carefully recharged and managed to buffer the inevitable shortage. Those can be jurisdictionally proprietary or they can exist across state lines.

We have always held onto the notion that once we invest in water infrastructure we have to utilize it each and every year, whether it is a surface water diversion or groundwater resources. We have built a system of water right accounting, in states that have a groundwater appropriation system, which requires us to use the supplies to which we have rights each and every year. The rationale in arid states is obvious. In Nevada all groundwater belongs to the state and a water right is merely a permit to use those supplies. Since the resource is so scarce the notion of hoarding it when you have no beneficial use for it or you no longer are putting it to beneficial use was established long ago. Today, however, in the face of increased uses and decreased water availability this type of “use it or lose it” principle can work against us. When it is in the best interest of the basin that we conserve the supply and allow basins to rest, the law precludes us from doing it. States have begun to grapple with amending these restraints, at least affording the regulators more flexibility.

In a changing protecting our groundwater resources has never been more important. This will require careful examination of not only our usage, but also of the laws that have for so long created the framework within which govern all groundwater extractions. Effectively managing these groundwater resources may one day be the only thing that will allow a community and the surrounding environment to survive.

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2017 Groundwater Foundation National Conference | October 24-26, 2017 | Boise, ID
Don't miss out - hear Pat Mulroy's keynote presentation, "Groundwater in a Climate-Changed World: Risks and Opportunities" along with other expert speakers. Register today! 





Pat Mulroy serves as a Non-resident Senior Fellow for Climate Adaptation and Environmental Policy for The Brookings Institution and also as a Practitioner in Residence for the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution at the UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law.  Mulroy also serves on the Wynn Resorts Ltd Board of Directors. Between 1989 and early 2014, Pat Mulroy served as General Manager of both the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Mulroy was a principal architect of the SNWA, helping to guide Southern Nevada through one of the worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River.  At UNLV’s Boyd School of Law and DRI, Mulroy’s focus is on helping communities in water-stressed areas throughout both the American Southwest and the world develop strategies to address increased water resource volatility and identify solutions that balance the needs of all stakeholders.