Treasure Valley Partnership
January 25, 2012
Hosted by Middleton
Ken Harward – AIC
Mayor Taylor opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the City of Middleton. He stated that today’s lunch was provided by American Grill in Middleton. After introductions, David made the Partnership aware that Tom Dale had surgery the previous week.
Darrin introduced Helen Harrington with the Idaho Division of Water Resources.
Treasure Valley Aquifer Management Plan
The Water Resource Board’s constitutional responsibility is to plan for the optimum us of water in the State. In 2008, the legislature realized that the issues that were full blown in the eastern state plain aquifer could potentially happen around the rest of the State. They established this program to begin looking at water planning in other areas. The Rathdrum Prairie and the Treasure Valley areas easily rose to areas of importance.
She said she is humbled by the Treasure Valley group because this has been a challenging process to say the least. Trying to find consensus of a group of members representing varying interests has been challenging but somewhat satisfying. The Advisory Committee for the plan began meeting in April of 2010 and have been meeting monthly since that time.
She said that the 41 members demonstrated the differences among the different groups involved with the plan. She presented the “draft” plan and stated there was consensus among all the members on the entire document with the exception of one section.
Surface water and ground water are intricately connected. The surface water infiltrates into the aquifer, and the aquifer in turn drains into drains and then into the river. There is the connection that creates both benefits and huge potential problems. Everything you talk about has potential side effects. For example, if you become more efficient with irrigation practices, lets say a change to sprinkler irrigation, you decrease the amount of recharge to the aquifer and the aquifer water levels may drop. All of this plays into what the advisory committee has come up with in their draft plan.
Once we can get consensus on the last remaining area, she is anticipating that the draft plan will be presented to the Idaho Water Resource Board this spring. She anticipates two hearings probably in the upper basin and the lower basin as well as the normal 60-day comment period. When that will start will depend on if the Board has any changes to the plan and how extensive they are.
The basin boundary is from Lucky peak to where the Boise dumps into the Snake. Some of the recommendations and actions are outside of the basin. New storage either surface or subsurface is a big part of potential solution to meeting water needs in the Treasure Valley. They had a study done and the conclusion was that an additional 80,000 and 120,000 acre foot that might be needed in the planning horizon of 50 years into the future. If we have population growth, where the growth is occurring has a big impact on the potential water need. If it occurs in an agricultural area, there won’t be much of a difference in the amount of the water need, just how it is used. If growth occurs in an undeveloped part of the valley, then the need for additional water changes as a result.
One of the most impressive things about this advisory group that caught her off guard was the vision they developed. What they realized was that, not only does this plan need to respect law, but it also needs to develop collaboration and finally they recognized that we need to have science to have a solid foundation for this plan.
Action Items from the plan
The first action item of the plan was to work to ensure there was good science to use as management tools to enable smart decisions. Additional storage and supply is also an action plan. In the area of ground water recharge the SE Area of Boise appears to initially be the most suitable for this purpose.
Conservation was an action item as well as the potential for conversion of water use from agricultural to other uses.
Conserving and protecting the water delivery infrastructure especially the ditches and canals. If an area is converting from agriculture, the plan requests that there be cooperation among irrigation districts, cities, home owner associations, etc. and others to insure this water is available to the landowners.
The last action item concerns the Municipal Water Rights Act of 1996. This is also called RAFN (Reasonably Anticipated Future Needs). It is a process for municipal providers to do long-term planning and perfection of their water rights looking out a planning horizon. There are a number of municipal providers that have gone through this process. Even the Dept. of Water Resources will tell you that it has been inconsistent in how it has been applied. There are benefits to municipal providers in being able to protect your water right for long-term needs; however the provider has to go through some stringent efforts and studies in order to justify that long-term planning horizon.
This provides the municipal provider the opportunity to develop and protect this water right before it is fully developed. Under a normal water right, you would submit an application and would be required to fully develop the permit in a period of five years. If the municipal provider, going through this process, shows that there is a need for so much water on a long planning horizon, can apply for that water right. However, the requirements for verification of the water right in essence require extensive growth and population studies. These studies are often very complex and expensive.
Some of the members on the Aquifer planning committee have said that it takes water out of play and locks it up in the future. They also say it provides an advantage to municipal water users that are not available to other water users. Other water users can’t use the expanded planning horizon condition; they have to go through the normal process of 5-10 years and don’t get to protect that water for the long term.
The reason this act was implemented in 1996 was because there was recognition of your legal responsibility as a municipal provider. You have to provide the water, you don’t have a choice.
So, in short, this section in the Aquifer plan has raised a lot of red flags. Some of those that have been in opposition this section have already gone to the Water Resource Board with their concerns. This is the last remaining section that is in flux. The Advisory Committee worked through the entire document in January and this section is the only one remaining to be solved.
Bill stated that he has been sitting in on the drafting of the RAFN section of the report and it has been through a number of iterations. Originally, the group basically just laid out some recommendations with regard to the process for RAFN applications and was surprised when there was opposition to even this idea.
Helen stated that there is a sensitivity of this section. The Board is not a regulatory body. They are a planning body that does water projects and manages a financial program, but the do no regulation or administration. There is sensitivity that this document should not be laying out management recommendations.
In the long run, this plan will provide support for partnership among local communities and the federal government where there are opportunities to leverage funding. If there are opportunities to leverage community or regional work, the Board is there to help provide support and matching for these activities.
For example, discussion about storage is hugely expensive. But if you have multiple partners that were going to get multiple benefits for something like this and leveraged funding, there is some real potential about what might be done.
John Evans stated that local land use planners have a local economic development prism they look at. If they were not able to secure water supply for future needs, they would be out of the planning business and therefore have an interest in this process.
John added that they have taken advantage of the consolidation of the water rights program. All their rights and points of diversion have been consolidated so they can operate their most efficient wells and take advantage of water rights for other areas. Right now, in the winter, they can take their highest production well and almost supply the whole city, whereas before they had to use almost nine wells and taking advantage of some of these programs have been helpful.
Helen asked if this was done through the adjudication. She stated that you probably will be hearing more about this RAFN process. In 1997, United Water filed through this act and it became very controversial and it was protested by many agencies.
John added as a comment, State of Idaho requirements for specific fire flows and your ability to provide those with your high volume well out of service for example, creates additional water demand needs. Your water right use may not be enough to cover that specific fire flow demand. They have to be able to operate at certain level with their highest production well out of service. So you have to have the water rights capacity available that really exceeds your need for day-to-day operations.
Greg thanked Helen for her leadership on this Treasure Valley Aquifer Management Plan. He stated that if you are looking down the pike fifty years from now with the growth level we just experienced, and then look around the nation and question what went wrong, this is a wonderful happening for the State. There are all kinds of interests on this Committee. Some you would agree with and some you would violently disagree with. Out of all of that they are putting together something that will help drive growth here for years.
Tammy stated that her representative on the Committee has been pleased with some of the progress. But when you mention drains, canals and the urbanization of our communities, the conflicts between cities and irrigation districts are going to continue. The way irrigation districts define maintenance vs. new construction, and what that impact has on our flood planes and our FEMA responsibilities is starting to create some serious conflicts.
She continued that she thinks this is all coming to a head. She thinks irrigation districts are looking at legislation similar to what they tried a couple years ago. There is some real conflicts coming up with regard to surface water and service areas. They are looking at strategies for their NPDES permits and also their sustainability models with reclaimed water. They need to use that reclaimed water in areas that are not always “yet” annexed into the City, now irrigation districts have an issue with them taking their reclaimed water outside of City limits, but inside their area of impact.
Tammy stated that she went to an irrigation district meeting and was shocked to find out they are not public meetings. You have to go through two doors, you have to be on their agenda and you have to wait till they bring you into the room. She wants to know how they get around the public meeting law. She has never been to a meeting of an elected board that is tax dollar funded that operates like this.
Smoking Ordinance – City of Boise
Darrin introduced Adam Park the City of Boise Public Information Officer.
Adam was not there to advocate for or against the ordinance for other jurisdictions. He wanted to discuss how the process worked and believes it is an interesting case study on public involvement on an issue. It shows how a local group can get together, form a coalition to try to get change on some issue. He said it is interesting from an elected official’s perspective on how the elected officials in Boise handled it. They really put the burden on that local group and said, if you think this is something the citizens of Boise want, then prove that. Go and show us that this is the case.
In 2008, the Mayor and Council for the City of Boise were approached by a group called Smoke Free Boise. It consisted of members from the American Heart and Lung Associations, the Cancer Action Network and some local residents that were interested in advancing the issue. At the time, the Mayor and Council felt like a broader solution was more appropriate. They felt that an ordinance was not the way to go at that particular time and felt that a valley-wide or State-wide solution was the way to go.
In 2009, this Smoke Free Boise organization presented to the Treasure Valley Partnership. At the time there was no appetite to undergo a Smoking Ordinance from the members. The Smoke Free Boise group also approached the State and was basically told that the Idaho Indoor Clean Air Act created the mechanism for Cities and Counties to go beyond the few requirements. The State felt they didn’t need to do anything further.
At that point the group started sending the Mayor and City Council post cards. They went to all of their supporters and asked them to send a post card to the Mayor and City Council to ask them to enact stricter smoking laws. They got allot of these. Over the course of a year they received 770 post cards from individuals all asking for stricter smoking ordinances.
Also, what happened about the same time was the Mayor was approached by several bar owners asking for the City to ban smoking in Bars.
In 2010, at the urging of Smoke Free Boise, the Mayor put a question on the citizen survey. They were really surprised by the results. 70% of the respondents favored the City banning smoking in all indoor public places. 53% favored banning smoking in public parks. In many ways, the results of this survey were the thing that turned the tide on the smoking ordinance.
Late in 2010, the Council made a unanimous consent request for staff to research and bring forward a new ordinance banning smoking in all indoor areas. In 2011, the Parks Commission recommended to the Council to ban smoking in parks as well. Then as you know, in September the City of Boise put forward two new ordinances.
(1) Banning smoking in most indoor public spaces and not within 20 feet of City of Boise owned property, bus stops, transit shelters, and outdoor service lines. The fundamental philosophy was anywhere indoors where people work. Since in most places that is already the case, what that amounted to was primarily bars, private clubs, tobacco establishments and a few other areas
(2) Banning smoking in all public parks and park facilities and within 20 feet of the greenbelt.
Darrin asked if the ordinances were handled separately because of different outcomes. Adam stated that it really had to do with the Code. The City has a Parks section that is treated independent. Dave added that they basically came through different routes. The Parks Commission on one and the information on the other.
Kelly clarified that the ordinance would apply to private clubs. He asked what guise a City or governmental entity could dictate what a private club does. Kelly said he can understand about the bars because only roughly only 30% of the people smoke. To him it is more of a privacy issue. When you’re a private club he feels you should be exempt from this ordinance.
Adam stated that he is not an attorney and would not the best person to answer that question, but if there are employees that work there, that becomes a different matter. He stated he believed that was a valid issue, but was surprised that they received no comments in this regard during the process of public comment.
Adam said they planned a robust public process because they knew there would be opposition to these ordinances. They knew based on polls they had done that there was support for the ordinances as well. Smoke Free Idaho was very active at getting people out. And the people that were against the ordinances were also very active. It was really quite surprising how the numbers came out. Generally if people are against something they are more likely to come out than some one who is for something. In this case, the people for the ordinance were there in force.
They did two public meetings. The first was a public information meeting that he led. The Mayor and Council weren’t there. It was just supposed to be for questions and answers. There was a lot of anger but there were a lot of supporters like medical professionals that talked about the science. The official public hearing before the Mayor and Council saw 30-40 people testify and it was evenly split pro and con.
There weren’t as many bar owners that came and testified. An owner of a cigar shop downtown came and made the case that their customers like to come in and try the product before they buy. Because of this, they carved out an exemption that said if your business is 95% or more tobacco related products, then you are exempt.
Adam stated another issue that came up was E cigarettes. If you don’t know, they are a new type of cigarette. They introduce steam into a nicotine packed substance then the steam goes into your lungs. There lots of different models of them. They don’t produce any smoke. The issue was to include these in the ordinance. Smoke Free Idaho was pushing to ban them as well. In the end, they decided not to include them in the ordinance. They really didn’t meet the definition of combustion that they defined in the ordinance and there really is no science on the use of these and their second hand effects.
Another issue that came up revolved around Native Americans and their ritualistic use of tobacco. After research they found there was precedent around the country in this regard. So they added an exemption that was tailored to any religious use of tobacco.
The Council did make some changes on their own based on their developing feelings. They felt that the Grove Plaza was really a public area and expanded the prohibition to this area as well.
In the end, they received 4500 points of contact from supporters of the ordinance and 3,500 against the ordinance. This amounts to a 56% of contacts in favor of the ordinance.
Darrin asked what cities, the size of Boise or larger have banned smoking. Adam said that he did not know based on size, but there are approximately 620 Cities around the country that have banned smoking in bars. There are 23 States that have banned smoking in indoor working places. He added that there are 21 cities in Idaho that have banned smoking in parks and that Boise is the only city in Idaho that has banned smoking in bars.
John moved and Kelly seconded to approve the minutes and financial report.