Ada County Commissioners must take action to protect the aquifer.

AQUIFER PROTECTION AND WELL OWNER RESOLUTION PETITION

We, the undersigned residents of Ada County, hereby petition the County Commissioners and submit the following resolution:  

Whereas numerous wells began drying up in the greater South Boise area and other parts of Ada County more frequently in the past four years, some as shallow as 50 feet, some as deep as 120 feet, and residents had to drill new wells to obtain water.  

Whereas 14,093 building permits were issued in Ada County since January 1, 2020.(1)  Building continues on a daily basis.  The mayor of Boise recently announced the city of Boise is constructing six new housing developments, and planning 7 more, projecting 1,250 new homes by 2026, plus water infrastructure upgrades and more parks(2), all of which will have drinking fountains and irrigation which will require water.  

Whereas some Ada County residents were without water for four months or more before a solution was put into action, and homeowners have been quoted as much as $110,000 to connect to the existing water purveyor system.  

Whereas the continued development will further remove open areas that would allow rain water to percolate through the soil and refresh the aquifers, and intentional recharging of the aquifers currently has limited application;  

Whereas experts in state and local agencies have stated the Treasure Valley Aquifer is reducing depth on an annual basis, estimated by six inches per year, essentially drying up, and have recommended a minimum well depth of at least 170 feet;(3)   

Whereas an estimated 70% of the water provided by Suez Water, now Veolia Water, comes from the aquifer to supply over 240,000 residents throughout the greater Boise area, and other water purveyors use 100% groundwater to provide water to their customers;(4)       

Whereas Suez Water was allowed by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to pump groundwater from the Treasure Valley aquifer in the greater Boise area, and pipe it to support 839 newly constructed homes in the Avimor development north of Eagle, which also has an end goal of 10,000 homes(5);  

Whereas water experts around the world recognize that when an aquifer runs dry, it is often lost as a water source for good, and one of the leading threats to groundwater is excessive pumping in response to population growth.(6)  The population of Ada County is projected to exceed one million people by 2040.(7) 

Whereas it was reported some of Veolia's wells "have seen declines corresponding with recent production increases in those wells"(8)   

Whereas well owners in the greater Eagle area reported having a decline in their wells with recent development.(9)    

The residents of Ada County submit the following resolution to the Ada County Commissioners:   

1. Ada County becomes proactive, and sets the standard for the municipalities within its borders.    

a.  Set aside areas to be designated as open space.     

b. Preserve current open space, agricultural, and rural zoning.     

c.  Where still possible, maintain open space between cities.  

2. Disallow groundwater to be removed and transferred to other areas.  

3. Identify areas in Ada County for ideal groundwater recharge.  

4. Require all development to do the following:

a. Meet requirements for permeability built into the proposed development(s), including but not limited to permeable pavers such as the type installed on Joplin Road, pervious concrete construction, or other construction which allows water to percolate through to the soil, and to the aquifer.  

b. Pay impact fees which are set aside in a fund to provide financial relief to Ada County residents whose wells are impacted.  

c.  Pay impact fees which will be used to fund a Managed Aquifer Recharge program.  

d.  Ada County sets the standard for the municipalities within county jurisdiction and makes a priority of reviewing the potential impacts on groundwater with any new development, take potential impacts into account and work with developers to remove or minimize impacts prior to issuing a permit.             

5.  Provide financial relief to Ada County residents who found themselves in the undesirable position of needing a new well and installed a well prior to action resulting from Ada County's recent arrangement with Veolia.        

1 Personal conversations by phone with Margaret Carmel, BoiseDev Senior Reporter between June and July 2022, and on August 2, 2022

2 2022 State of the City address, Mayor McLean, May 2022; https://www.kivitv.com/news/boise-mayor-lauren-mclean-gives-state-of-the-city-discusses-affordable-housing-citys-economy, accessed online August 1, 2022

3 Personal conversations by phone with Zack Kirk, Engineer, Ada County Development Services on July 12, 2022, and with Becky Goehring, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in July and August, 2022

4 https://www.veolianorthamerica.com/contact-us/find-office/boise-id; https://waterzen.com/water-providers/suez-water-idaho/  Accessed online on August 1, 2022

5 https://boisedev.com/news/2022/04/04/avimor-idaho-water/, accessed online on August 1, 2022

6 https://www.fluencecorp.com/importance-of-preserving-groundwater/, accessed online on August 1, 2022   https://heimduo.org/what-are-the-main-causes-of-groundwater-depletion/, accessed online on August 1, 2022   https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/groundwater-decline-and-depletion, accessed online on August 1, 2022

7 https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/is-the-treasure-valley-ready-for-the-massive-population-growth-expected-by-2040/277-b62a54a9-0f34-4c67-bbe9-9c78de759bb6, accessed online on August 1, 2022

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