On November 2nd, 2021, Boise voters will consider a Water Bond that will avoid significant rate hikes and invest in our clean water infrastructure.
Boiseans know the Boise River is a priceless asset to our city and contributes to our sense of place. For decades, the investments that we have made as a community demonstrate our shared commitment to protecting and enhancing clean water. Together, the community has supported the development of the Greenbelt and parks along the river. We work hard to keep pollutants out of our stormwater and clean up our wastewater so that it can safely return to the river.
The reality is that Idaho’s clean water infrastructure is aging. Some pipes date back to 1891.
Every day, the city treats 30 million gallons — that adds up to 10 billion gallons treated every year — and it’s projected to grow by 20% by 2040.
Our clean water resources will be under threat if we don’t address these needs now.
So, what will it do?
The Water Renewal Bond will provide immediate funding for needed upgrades without dramatically raising rates. A bond is effectively a taxpayer-supported loan, providing access to capital and guaranteeing that taxpayers will pay off the loan over 30 years.
Currently, Boise residents pay $36 per month in sewer fees, which is less than neighboring Meridian and Nampa. If the Bond passes, our rates will still be lower.
If the Bond DOES NOT pass, the investments will still be made, but we’ll see our sewer rates rise by 53% next year, meaning that current residents will bear the costs that new residents will benefit from.
If the Bond DOES pass, the sewer rates will gradually rise (9.9% per year) and ensure shared costs between current and future residents of Boise.
What are some examples of projects that will be funded?
- The Lander Street Wastewater Treatment Plant was built in 1949. Funding will provide for repairs and upgrades needed to avoid sewage spills and contamination, threatening our environment and public health.
- A new water renewal facility is needed as Southeast Boise continues to grow. Investments will provide for a new state-of-the-art plant that will be online by 2030 to meet growing demand.
- Upgrades and replacement of pipes and infrastructure across the city are necessary. Studies have shown that 20% of the pipes and 50% of the system are at the end or nearing their projected lifespan.
The bottom line
Boise and much of southern Idaho will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming decades. We need to prepare for this growth and protect our quality of life, including the Boise River. And we need to find a fair way to pay for it.
The Water Renewal Bond isn’t asking whether these investments are needed, but how best to pay for them. Should current ratepayers be saddled with steep rate hikes next year, or is it better to allow more gradual increases and ensure that future residents pay their fair share?
And, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 2nd!