Strategic Planning Meeting Minutes
September 24 & 25, 2015
- Tammy de Weerd
- John Evans
- Bob Henry
- Brad Holton
- Jim Reynolds
- Joe Stear
- Darin Taylor
- Rick Yzaguirre
Staff and Guests
- Kris Berg – Asst. State Conservationist – Programs, Natural Resource Conservation Service
- Seth Grigg – Executive Director, Association of Idaho Cities
- Alex Johnson – Sr. Freshwater Solutions Director, The Freshwater Trust
- Clark Krause – Executive Director, Boise Valley Economic Partnership
- David Luft – Air Shed Manager, Idaho DEQ Boise Regional
- Mary Anne Nelson – IPDES Program Manager – DEQ State Office
- Aaron Scheff – Regional Administrator, Idaho DEQ Boise Regional Office
- Troy Smith – IPDES Rules Guidance Coordinator – DEQ State Office
- Bill Stewart – EPA Region 10
- Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership
Tammy thanked everyone for attending and said she felt it was necessary for all of us to get together and talk about these key issues. It is also nice to hear from different agencies we interact with and have impact on our cities and counties.
DEQ Idaho – Issue Update and Discussion
Tammy turned the meeting over to Aaron Scheff, the Regional Administrator for Idaho DEQ.
Aaron thanked the TVP for the opportunity and said he brought folks from both the Regional and State offices. Troy is with us to talk about the lower Boise TMDL. Mary Anne will discuss the transition from the national pollution discharge elimination (NPDES) system to the Idaho version called IPDES. And David is here to provide updates on Ozone compliance and upcoming standards.
Aaron reiterated that if any of the members have any questions or need anything; please feel free to contact them.
He read about Heartland RV in the paper that morning about something they believe they are going to need a permit. Bob asked what they are going to be discharging. Aaron said, one would assume they are going to be doing some painting on a large scale. Once it reaches a certain volume there is a trigger for the permit.
Bob asked what permit Aaron was eluding too. David said the State of Idaho Air Quality rules require that any business that emits pollution to the air, needs to have documentation that shows they are exempt from the permit requirements or they need to have a permit. Normally they work with each facility to help them determine if they are exempt or not. Generally, if a facility is doing surface coating, welding operating a wood shop type operation they are probably going to need an air quality permit.
Darin asked if a facility gets an exemption, how long is that exemption valid. David said the exemption remains valid as long they are conducting operations as they are currently doing them. If they alter the nature of the operation, such as simply switching to a different chemical composition of paint, would trigger a need for a permit.
Aaron said that they get a tremendous amount of complaints from the public. Sometimes those complaints will trigger an inspection of the facility. They do other things through their hazardous waste inspections. For example, they helped a Kuna business this past year that was produce a high volume of waste water. They had their technical assistance personnel work with the business to help them get their process dialed in so they were producing a lot less waste water.
Lower Boise TMDL – Troy Smith
Aaron introduced Troy Smith who was standing in for Lance and would provide an update on the Lower Boise TMDL.
First some background. The origin of the Lower Boise TMDL come from the Integrated Report DEQ is required to do by the Clean Air Act. This Integrated Report identifies those waters in the State that are impaired. The Lower Boise has had a phosphorous or nutrient impairment since the 1996 report.
They look at two assessment units along the river that are listed as impaired. Those are from Middleton to Indian Creek and from Indian Creek to the mouth.
John asked the time deadlines for submission of the TMDL. Troy said they just submitted the TMDL to EPA for approval in August.
Troy said they are looking at phosphorous from a number of different sources; point sources such as municipal, industrial and stormwater and nonpoint sources such as agriculture and natural ground water. They try to identify the amount of phosphorous that are coming from those sources and what the allocations need to be from those sources in order to meet the target status.
The first target they have to meet is the Snake River-Hells Canyon TMDL which allocated at the mouth of the Boise River at Parma there had to be a May-September limit of .07 milligrams per liter of phosphorous. The other target they have is for the two assessment units that were impaired; they had to show they were supporting beneficial uses within the units.
They looked at long-term concentrations and loads of phosphorous under a variety of flows from 1997-2012. The USGS also did a Mass Balance study in 2013 that helped determine these amounts.
Troy showed some results of the study that showed we have the highest concentrations of phosphorous when we have low river flows. The chart showed depending on the flow, phosphorous concentrations in the river were from .31 to .36 milligrams per liter vs. the .07 target.
Tammy asked if the Cities all met their permits of .07 on their discharges, how much this would impact the data. Troy said it would not bring us to the target because there are large contributors from agriculture to storm water. Brad said that he remembers that the Cities only contribute less than 20% of the total load. Troy said to come up with a number for this is really difficult. Just separating out municipal is difficult because some of the municipal is getting reused into the agriculture system. He said you are probably in that range but they don’t know what the hard and fast number is for the municipal contributions.
Troy said the second piece of the puzzle is looking at the beneficial uses in the two assessment units that are impaired. For nutrients, it is a narrative standard. It essentially says that nutrients cannot be supporting aquatic growths such as algae. They first had to define what this looks like and utilized a study that was done in Montana to determine the narrative standard.
Tammy said they ask their citizens their opinion on fire response for example. Everyone wants the lowest response they can get. Then you put dollars to the equation. Is the State putting dollars to what it costs to comply with the standards? Troy said there have been some estimates. But their job is to identify what the beneficial uses are and what do the loads have to be to get there. They have two beneficial uses they are looking at. One is recreation and the other is cold water aquatic life.
Troy said they also looked in the literature and tried to identify the ranges of periphyton growth that support contact recreation and cold water aquatic life. The literature strongly suggests between 100mg and 200mg per liter squared, is where you find full support of cold water aquatic life. It depends on the stream and specific species. If you are below 100mg, the literature indicates you are supporting cold water aquatic life. If you are above 200mg, the literature indicates you are not. They support a target of 150mg.
Darin asked if local user feedback was received through the WAG. Troy said that was the case.
Troy showed a chart that was a snapshot of the historical periphyton growth in the river relative to the 150. There was no record of periphyton growth occurring above the 150 level upstream of Eckert Road. There were some spikes at Glenwood that are relatively high and they are trying to figure out what that is from.
When you get to Caldwell, Middleton and Parma you can see a fairly regular occurrence of values above the 150 target.
In order to identify what the reductions would need to be in order to meet the 150 target, they looked at the Aquatox model. This is a dynamic model that incorporates numerous functions including light, flow, temperature, nutrients, etc. They had numerous people involved over two years to develop the model. Through this process they developed the allocations.
They had to identify what the reductions needed to be to meet the May to September target of .07 for phosphorous. They also had to identify the reductions needed to meet the contact recreational and cold water aquatic life of target of 150 for periphyton.
What this came down to was allocations for May – September as follows.
Point Sources – 0.1 mg/L
Stormwater/Wet Weather—42% Reductions
Stormwater/Dry Weather—84% Reductions
From October to April, they are strictly looking at the 150 periphyton target as there are no requirements for phosphorous during this time frame. The allocations are as follows.
Point Sources – 0.35 mg/L
Fish hatcheries—0.1 mg/L
Stormwater/Wet Weather—42% Reductions
Stormwater/Dry Weather—84% Reductions
John asked how we are going to achieve some of these targets. For example, how are going to lower the ground water contributions? Troy said for nonpoint sources, it is going to be voluntary and is going to be based on funding and willing partners. The tributaries and groundwater are very tied to agriculture. The tributaries are acting as drains for agriculture. The groundwater they are talking about is the shallow aquifer which is really tied to agriculture.
They are expecting to see a reduction from point sources being reduced but hopefully voluntary measures taken from the agricultural side as well.
John asked if there is a point in time where we either meet or don’t meet the targets and what is the consequence. Troy said for municipalities the compliance cycle will be as a result of the permits. As far as meeting the allocations of the TMDL, we know that the nonpoint sources are not regulated and they can’t mandate those reductions. So there is no time frame for meeting the TMDL. It is really a “as soon as possible” scenario given funding and partners.
Tammy asked what “given funding” means. Troy said this means the availability of 319 funding and potentially water quality trading funding that may be available, etc. They will be looking for funding that will provide an incentive for the nonregulated contributors to institute water quality practices.
John said, taking the municipal point source out of the equation, is there a consequence for not meeting the TMDL. Troy said that we won’t be supporting the beneficial uses we are trying to achieve and the stream will also remain on the impaired list. Until we meet the beneficial uses, it will be identified as an impaired stream.
Aaron said there is a larger issue that ties into the nonpoint sources. We do have a ground water program that looks at nitrates. They have nitrate priority areas where they are working with groups to do outreach to reach the nonpoint sources. The work with the agriculture community to institute practices that might reduce the nitrate inputs where there is some voluntary interest.
John asked if there is any traction to form incentives for volunteer efforts in the Ag sector. Aaron said they have 319 grants and Dept. Ag has some funding as well. But there are not a lot of financial incentives.
Troy said one of the carrots they are hoping comes to fruition is water quality trading. Brad said water quality trading really has potential. If we went down to one of the tributaries like the city of Boise did, you can really affect a lot reduction. This is going to incentivize municipalities to participate on these tributaries.
John said there are two people present that are on the Association of Idaho Cities Executive Committee. So if there are initiatives or anything that has a legislative nexus from DEQ’s perspective, it would be helpful if you shared this information so they determine if there are activities the Association can take on. He is worried there might be a disconnect between DEQ and the Dept. of Ag.
Brad said there is a dynamic that is happening that we are at the beginning of. Drip irrigation and for example will lower the amount of water leaving a property, but will increase ground water levels. This is a real conundrum.
On August 28th, they submitted the TMDL for review. Once the EPA has approved the TMDL there are a couple of things that can happen. One is the allocations will be used as a guidance for NPDES permits. Secondly, the implementation plan development will begin on how they get there. Lastly, pollutant trading will hopefully become an option. They hope that pollutant trading will speed up reducing the phosphorous loads in the system.
NPDES Permitting – Mary Anne Nelson
Mary Ann started by saying in 2014, the State Legislature said it would be a good idea if the State were the responsible party for NPDES Permits and have the application completed by 2016. One of the components of this was the Legislature said the DEQ could collect reasonable fees. So, currently permits are free. DEQ’s permits are going to have a cost associated with them.
Why delegated authority is good for Idaho? Discharge permitting is the only remaining component of the Clean Water Act that the state does not have delegated authority to implement. It will give the state control over the interpretation of water quality standards. It allows DEQ to integrate the various components of all water quality programs rather than jumping back and forth between DEQ and EPA. It allows DEQ to incorporate flexibility where possible in the permitting process and to offer compliance assistance activities. Compliance assistance is aimed at bringing dischargers back into compliance with the permit which ultimately will be better for water quality. There will be a more responsive program that will allow local understanding of challenges faced by facilities.
Tammy said that EPA can still overrule the State. Mary Anne said EPA will still retain oversight authority. But as long as they follow their standards and permitting process, they are not likely to jump in and overrule them.
Where do we stand on this? They have had eight negotiated rule makings on this process and they are preparing the application for a Sept 2016 submittal. They anticipate approval in 2018 and will implement a phased approach for permitting. They will start by writing municipal permits in 2018. The second year they will look at industrial permits and in the third year they will take on general permits and the pre-treatment program. In the final year they will take on stormwater permitting, bio solids and federal facilities.
Bob said that the EPA historically hasn’t had a track record of expediting things. What is the incentive for EPA to give DEQ the permitting authority? Mary Anne said EPA wants the State to have the NPDES permitting authority so they don’t have to pay for it. She is optimistic they will meet the timelines identified. Aaron added that there are only six states that don’t have NPDES Primacy so they would very much like the State to run this.
Mary Anne said there are about 1250 individual or general NPDES permits that will be done out of the Boise Regional Office. Throughout the State there is a total of 2,700 permits.
In the future, they will be writing the permits through the State office of DEQ so they can insure consistency. At the regional level is where they will conduct the inspections. Her view is to rely on more compliance assistance than enforcement. They want to help people get into compliance instead of nailing them to the wall for a violation.
They are looking at increasing their workforce as a result of this activity by 28 people statewide.
Through the DFM and the Governor’s Office on their future budget, the State is looking at providing around $2 million per year and the projected costs will be around $3 million. The remainder of $1 million will be out of program fees.
Because they are looking at a phased implementation schedule, the original fee schedule of $1.4 million will stay in place. Once they are fully operational, they will go back and reevaluate the fee schedule.
Tammy asked if the State is committing to funding for the long term. They aren’t going to get this up and running and then pull out of providing funds for the IPDES program? Mary Anne said the commitment they have gotten is an increase in DEQ’s base budget by $2 million.
Brad said in regards to client assistance vs. enforcement, in his end of the valley there were several communities that signed up for the .07 and their systems are not in compliance. The City of Greenleaf put in a system that is in compliance with the .07. Where is the fairness in this? One council has said they are not going to attempt to come into compliance till there is a fine levied. So in essence they are calling a bluff.
Mary Anne said she does want to work with facilities but she will take out the hammer and levy fines. One of the constraints this program will operate under, where the EPA does not, is they have a two-year statute of limitations. They will have to start an enforcement proceeding within two years.
Tammy asked if DEQ is ready to do this. DEQ has always been the neutral problem solver and now you will be the enforcer. Are people looking forward to that? Mary Anne said she doesn’t believe anybody looks forward to having to be the enforcer. That doesn’t mean they won’t pull out the hammer.
When the agency pursues an enforcement action, regardless of the program involved, they pursue penalties which end up going to the general fund. Therefore, the agency is not going to be say let’s issue penalties and increase our budget.
Air Quality Issues – David Luft
John said he had a question regarding fires and smoke and how this impacts our air quality and whether we get a pass. David Luft said yes they have tools they can use when these events happen. They still have to report, but these tools can help mitigate a period of noncompliance.
When the standard for ozone lowered to 75 in 2008, it was significantly above EPA’s scientific advisory council’s recommendations. Now, under a court order, by October 1 the EPA administrator has to sign a new standard into effect.
In October 2016, the State will have to report whether they are in compliance with the new standard based on 2013-2015 data.
Things have gotten better by the data. We have instituted some control measures that have helped. Those are, stage 1 vapor recovery at the gas stations and the vehicle emission testing program in Canyon County. Tammy asked if all the gas stations were in compliance now. David said he is just about to send a letter to a significant number of gas stations that have submitted the required reports that show they are in compliance. Tammy asked if it is possible that DEQ could provide information to the Cities/Counties on those stations that show up on this list. David said he would check on this and get back to her.
If we are designated as attainment, then thing continue to go on as they are from this point forward. If we ever go into nonattainment we would be called a marginal attainment area. Over the last few cycles, they have lessened the requirements for marginal nonattainment areas. If we don’t meet the standard within 3 years, the area gets “bumped” to a “moderate” classification. This moderate nonattainment status would put us into the ~30 year cycle, with additional enforceable control measures required and even more stringent permitting requirements.
Right now, we are sitting at a level of 68. (The new standard got set at 70 a few days after this presentation.)
When it comes to PM 2.5, we are in violation of the standard. But we are not designated nonattainment by EPA yet.
Legislative Issues Discussion – Seth Grigg
Seth said there has been a lot of focus on urban Renewal. There has been a very active interim committee that has been meeting. The committee comprises the whole spectrum on urban renewal from legislators that would like nothing more than to repeal the law to legislators who have been champions and allies to urban renewal agencies.
They have had two meetings to this point. They have been trying to get all the information they can from the various agencies. They are at a point in their discussions where they are going to start talking about policy alternatives. A number of the committee members have reached out to him and said they need to hear from cities to find out what cities want in the legislation.
They are looking for constructive ways to improve the law such that it would be more economically friendly and at the same time be more transparent and accountable. Some of the issues that have come up are: What is an urban renewal agency? What is the appropriate role of that agency in addressing blight and fostering economic development? How can we make these agencies more accountable?
The Coeur d’Alene urban renewal agency started out as the urban renewal agency and a couple of years ago changed their name to the Lake City Development Corporation. Over the last several months they have gone through a rebranding and a name change. They are now known as Ignite CDA. They have spent quite a bit of funds on this rebranding and a lot of legislators have called in to question whether the use of funds on rebranding is appropriate and whether or not is appropriate for an urban renewal agency to have a name like this. The argument is upon hearing the name Ignite CDA, would you know it is an urban renewal agency and what their purpose is. This has started the discussion around accountability and transparency.
Seth said they need to be engaged as an organization in finding real solutions to some of these problems. What can we do to have to do to have a more transparent process? How do we insure that when you approve an urban renewal plan that the agency is following that plan?
We have two court cases that have established that the urban renewal agency is not the alter ego of the city. To the extent that you have a body that has over sight over the agency, you start to blur the lines and it presents some issues.
Another component of this relates to public buildings. If you read the economic development act it is clear that public facilities can be built with urban renewal funds. There are some legislators out there questioning whether it is appropriate for urban renewal agencies to use those funds to build public buildings.
There have been a number of legislative proposals that have sought to limit the number of public facilities that can be built with urban renewal funds. There does seem to be a clear distinction when you talk with legislators, everyone is comfortable with urban renewal funds being used for infrastructure and related facilities. So if you are building sewer lines, water lines, lift stations, and even treatment facilities, there seems to be agreement that this is an appropriate use of funds. Because it goes to economic development and you need the infrastructure to attract businesses in. Where you get in the grey area is if you are using urban renewal funds for a police station or city hall.
Bob asked if library’s fall in this grey area. Seth said that libraries are an interesting discussion right now. When Rick Youngblood and Robert Anderst’s bill was debated in committee, it was surprising the number of people that testified in support of libraries being an appropriate use of urban renewal funds.
Tammy stated that if it is the cities plan for that urban renewal district as a qualified project, shouldn’t the local governments or local areas make those decisions? Seth said there is a lot of consideration for that. Jeff Siddoway is one that has said very strongly that if you have an urban renewal agency with a plan that has been approved by the city council and the project is included in that plan, then let’s leave that the locals to decide that.
Bob said, his frustration is if a new agency is formed and within that agency a library project is in the plan and you go to the voters and they support it, then he doesn’t have a problem with that. But when they bring a new district within the agency and circumvent it that way, then he has a problem.
Seth said part of the discussion around public buildings has been if we do require a vote component for a public building, then it would be a simple majority not the 2/3 for a majority. He can’t predict at this point where the public building component is going. It wouldn’t be surprising to him if certain buildings were carved out for example, administrative buildings and city halls. Tammy said if this is the case, if there were a simple majority vote, this should take some of the angst out of this problem.
Seth said Utah has unique model where you have what is called a taxing entity committee. It consists of elected officials from cities, counties and schools. It is a seven person committee and they have a final say on projects. Schools are included in Utah because they are subject to the increment.
Seth said he feels urban renewal will be one of the dominant issues of this upcoming legislative session. Bob said he talked to Rick Youngblood and he indicated they want to put it to bed.
On the positive side, as a result of the discussion on urban renewal, there has been significant interest in looking at: local option tax, looking at reducing the voter thresholds for general obligation bonds and potentially allowing councils and commissions to issue a revenue bond by a vote of the council or commission as opposed to going to a vote. The problem with those components is you need a constitutional amendment to do it. A constitutional amendment is a high hurdle as you need 2/3 of the legislature to approve it and you need a majority of the voters in a general election to approve it.
In your talks with your urban renewal folks, if you have a discussion on what is needed to make urban renewal work, then they need to collect that information and submit it to the interim committee. That is what they are looking for, what you need as a city to make urban renewal work. We have a real opportunity to play a role in the policy making process.
Tammy said they are also trying to clarify the economic development piece and she asked how that is going. Seth said there seems to be a lot more interest in focusing on economic development and using urban renewal for that rather than focusing on blight, because it is separated in two chapters.
One of the constraints in rural settings is including green field or Ag land within an urban renewal district boundary. There are some legislators that don’t feel this fits within the law. However when you are talking about economic development, you have to have green fields included in the law. They will look at that as something they can shore up in the law. If you look at Twin Falls, Giovani and Cliff Bar have both been green field developments.
Tammy said green fields make it interesting on the board makeup. She understood they were talking about urban renewal board members should live within the district. So you have an economic development project on a green field, who is going to serve on the board.
Seth said board composition has come up. If they do anything with this they will probably require you live in the municipality as opposed to the district for that very reason. Some have argued the qualifier should be that you reside in the county.
Tammy asked if they will put qualifiers in that qualify what can be a project under economic development. Seth said the discussion so far has been to allow the greatest level of flexibility. He doesn’t see too many qualifiers that will come up.
In Caldwell, there was an entity that relocated and as part of the relocation they were guaranteed if they created x amount of jobs, they would eligible for up to $200,000 in rebate from the agency itself. What wasn’t clear in that discussion was whether the rebate was for investment in infrastructure (which is allowed by law) or was the entity coming to our community and creating x amount of jobs. It is important because rebating for the investment in infrastructure is allowed by law whereas if it was a check for creating jobs that is not allowed by law.
Public Defense Reform
The public defense reform interim committee finally held their first meeting in mid-September. From a city standpoint, based on the direction they are headed, he doesn’t think they will create any legislation that will require cities to pay into the public defense system. What it looks they will focus on at least initially will be improving the standards that are in place for public defenders. Without new standards in place, there is no way to really figure out the costs for carrying out the services.
For the first time in three years, most of the committee members have acknowledged the State should put some money into the system. Essentially, we need to get the new standards in place wrap our arms around how much it is going to cost and then figure out what the State’s contribution is going to be. Alternatively, if it does increase costs for counties there is some discussion around either an independent levy for public defense or increasing the justice spending limits for those jurisdictions that are at a cap for funding.
There has been an ongoing discussion around public records and records retention. It has been about a year now, but the Governor created an office on Public Records Ombudsman in his office. Calli Younger is her name and she is trying to mitigate disputes that crop up for requests for information. Earlier this summer, the City of Fruitland was being badgered by a reporter. This reporter contacted Calli alleging a violation of the public records act. Through her efforts we were able mediate what could have been an ugly situation.
Another component of public records is several years ago, the Director of the State Archives said come all send your records and they have all kinds of space. As it turns out, they don’t have as much space as they thought they had. So they are returning those records to the jurisdiction that sent them in.
Some of you have lots of records and don’t have the space to store the records and are renting space elsewhere. One of the things they have been talking with the Clerks about is revising the records retention statutes to allow for some of the records to be retained digitally. The counties are also looking at the same issue
Another records related issue they have been working with the counties on relates to body worn cameras. Tammy’s officers wear cameras and worked on a policy with ICRMP and you have a good policy in place.
For anyone utilizing body worn camera’s, there is a records retention component to that. It can get quite costly to store the information from the camera. And if you have a public records request on data associated with an incident, because of the sensitive nature of the record and the possibility of an ongoing investigation, it requires you to bring in an attorney to decide what needs to be redacted. Then you need to bring in an IT professional to scrub that information.
A draft bill has been produced and a lot of it comes from Meridian’s policy and it comes from the tort claims act. One of the problems is does it apply to just police body worn cameras or does it apply to a camera that fireman are wearing. Does it apply to a county jail that has 24-hour surveillance? There all kinds of issues associated with this and it is a national issue as well.
In times of curtailment, the Department looks at the curtailment based on the priority date, but a city may have several different wells with different priority dates. And you cannot transfer volume between wells. One of the goals is to find a way to allow you to keep pumping from those wells as long as the total volume is below what is needed to meet the demands from the call.
Twin Falls recently received a letter from the Dept. of Water Resources stating that all of their municipal use is considered consumptive. It means all municipal use is considered consumable whether or not it is going back into the water system. They have asked for a clarification from the Dept. and depending on what comes back might prompt another item coming onto this list whether municipal use is fully consumable or only consumable to the extent that the water is not returned to the system.
Area of Impact
This has been an issue for years throughout the State. He has asked a number of city staff to take a look at the existing law, identify what the problems are and come up with some recommendations we can present to the AIC Board. There really isn’t sufficient notice provisions in the law. The law grants cities authorities they think they have. In reality, case law has established those authorities don’t exist. It has created a lot of issues, especially in urban growth areas, and has created conflict between counties and cities.
There is a little town in Eastern Idaho, Iona. It has been completely cut off by development that has occurred in the county within the cities area of impact. The development that has occurred around the city has a private water and sewer provider and thus there is no incentive to annex into the city. The city of Idaho Falls is having the same problem.
Tammy asked if Seth has had any conversation with the Idaho Water User’s Assn. Seth indicated he recently met with Norm before they set their agenda. This is an organization he is trying to build a better relationship with.
There is an issue that came up associated with NPDES rule making. The water users were asking for jurisdiction where you would have to get permission from them if you were contemplating discharging into a canal or a ditch.
Tammy said the Water User’s Assn. wants the City of Meridian to get a permit to continue to discharge into Five Mile Creek, which they have been doing for a long time. Seth said he had a meeting with some of the folks at DEQ and they assured him that this language would not be included in the NPDES rule making. She stated that they have started a Treasure Valley water users group. As a result, some of the Pioneer Irrigation District issues have resurfaced.
Darin asked what we can do. Seth said, on a city level you as water users, need to engage the association. Tammy added that more city jurisdictions need to join as a member of the Assn. as there are only six cities that are members of the Assn. Seth added that their founding document gives cities a seat at the table through which you can become a member of their Assn. So it is important to engage them.
Seth said one of the items they have been discussing with the water rights working group for municipalities is there is a greater need for cities to get involved in water related issues. That can be accomplished through enhanced involvement from AIC which he is trying to spearhead. Beyond that, at a local level, you need to engage with your water districts, canal districts, etc.
Brad asked if Seth was up to speed on the Boise River refill issue. Seth indicated he has had conversations with Roger at the end of the session last year. One of the challenges on this issues is the two committees are controlled by legislators from Eastern Idaho. Eastern Idaho went through the courts on this refill issue to find resolution. In the opinion of most legislators, this issue needs to be set by the courts not legislatively.
Seth said the other water issue relates to recharge. The Groundwater Users Assn. desperately needs a broadening of the recharge law we have right now. They are relying on recharge to mitigate against water calls. One of their hopes is through a discussion on recharge legislation we can have a broader discussion on what waters can be used for recharge. With DEQ, we need to discuss reclaimed waste water and what those treatment levels need to be for that water to be used for recharge. Right now, he is not aware of many cities that are treating their discharge water to be used for recharge.
Another issue that has come up is a need to start talking about a water bank for municipalities. You have a bunch of cities that are close together that are drawing from the same aquifer. If you end up having one city that doesn’t have a right sufficient to mitigate against a water call, potentially they could borrow water from a neighboring city. Right now you can’t do that but it is something they have identified as a long-term goal for municipalities.
Some of the resort cities are banding together and he is expecting a resolution on liquor by the drink licensing to come before the AIC Board. There is this ongoing debate in the legislature whether or not we continue to grant exemptions for liquor by the drink licensing. Or if it is time to revisit the whole liquor licensing issue.
Seth said some of the TVP members may have been contacted by Mayor Kirkham of Ammon. The way the sales tax distribution formula is set up for revenue sharing favors cities that aren’t growing and had large inventories years ago. Before there was any revenue sharing, inventory was subject to a property tax. The legislature exempted inventory from taxation and to keep locals harmless established sales tax revenue sharing. A portion of revenue sharing you receive today was derived through a formula, decades ago. It was based on the inventory you had in your community.
Tammy said Meridian is pulling together a focus group to discuss the issue of school funding and how to fund the schools without using impact fees and bonds. This is something her citizens have expressed concern over. It is also a result of Representative Moyle pitting cities and counties against the school districts and creating distrust. It needs to be discussed and hopefully something will come from their focus group.
There are some high level discussions among leaders in the House and Senate about comprehensive tax reform in the State largely looking at the income tax and potentially looking at sales tax on groceries. They are wrestling with this notion of people asking for relief from income tax for example. They would like to do that, but at the same time they have an education system they have to fund. How do you fund education to the level it needs and at the same time provide income tax relief.
Branding and having a Common Message/Leadership Conference Follow-up – Clark Krause Over the last five years things have changed as we went from 10.6% unemployment to around 5% currently. He feels we have had some great results.
The tax reimbursement incentive that we now have in place has shifted what our opportunities are from a national perspective. Today what we are seeing from an activity standpoint is really national deals that are looking at several different states to relocate to. We are able to compete now where we weren’t able to before.
This last year, the State had $1billion of new payroll come into the State on TRI (Tax Reimbursement Incentive). This is the incentive that gives back up to 30% of payroll, sales and other taxes for up to 15 years. In a rural area it is 25 jobs and in an urban area it is 50 jobs in order to qualify for the TRI.
We have had four TRI events in the valley including the Heartland RV deal bringing 300 jobs that was recently announced.
They are seeing about 150% more projects than they were seeing. That being said, these are higher quality projects. Part of the requirement for the TRI is the wages have to be above the average county wage. Not only have we seen an increase in the projects but we are seeing higher paying positions.
He feels that over the last five years, they have built the legislation, but they are just now starting to see the results. The thing will be to protect urban renewal districts and TRI. If we can keep the TRI going, what it will create for the State of Idaho in the future will be amazing. This TRI also helps you not have to lean as hard on the small amount of tools you have to attract business.
We had 10.6% unemployment, now we have 5.1% so not only do we have better policies in place than we had five years ago, but the challenge becomes can we prove we have the talented people to fill the rooftop. Their business is all about people today. It has really shifted to a point where have to prove out the workforce talent portion. So, they have been much more engaged with the local colleges and universities to show those coming in that we do have a good pipeline of talent.
Tammy said we have an out of board schoolboard right now that is apparently attempting to get Dr. Clark out. Dr. Clark is a great asset for our valley and our State. If we end up losing her it will be a great loss for the valley as well as the State. She was just put on the State Board of Ed. and she gets it. If you go to her with a workforce issue, her attitude is solution based and you never hear her first words be negative.
Clark said they are at the end of their five year mission and so they brought a gentleman to come in and help recalibrate the mission. One of the things he has helped with is to refine what are the talking points as folks come to town. For example, when these folks would go out and speak with some of our community leaders and they would be only armed with State numbers for education for example. The State numbers for education are terrible, but the numbers for the valley are very favorable. So the goal is to change some of the language to fully tout what is in the valley and not focusing on statewide statistics.
The other opportunity we have that we are trying to get out to everyone is the In-Migration statistics. We have incredible growth numbers now. We have a higher in-migration number than any metro region on the west coast.
One of the things you hear from the Dept. of Commerce is that this in-migration is the silver tsunami. This is actually not the case. Our in-migration is three years younger than the national average (33 years old).
Clark said he would love to come to each jurisdiction’s chamber to discuss the misconceptions about the Boise Metro area and to discuss the refinement of talking points as visitors come to town.
Water Quality Trading – Bill Stewart & Alex Johnson
Bill said he wears several hats for the EPA in Boise. One of the things he does is he is the compliance inspector for construction sites. He is also the 319 person for nonpoint sources in Idaho. The biggest part of his job is he is the TMDL reviewer for the Lower Boise River.
He is happy to report that he is half way through the review of the final TMDL document. He doesn’t see any road blocks at this point. Recently, he met with the new agricultural advisor for the Administrator of EPA. He spent some time with this person and that he had tons of questions about the Lower Boise. He said the Administrator is very interested in the TMDL work happening because of the innovative things that are happening on the Lower Boise. Primarily because of the cooperation that occurred on the development of the Dixie Drain.
During the Dixie Drain process, he met with Neal Oldmeyer, Paul Woods and others when they proposed the idea. It has been a real struggle to get this done. However one of the benefits of this has been the people in his agency like the idea of water quality trading.
The thing about water quality trading that is interesting is it is not mentioned in the Clean Water Act. EPA’s perspective on trading is that it has to be a State and locally led effort. It is not something they can mandate. What they are going to do is watch and review what gets agreed to and how this happens to insure the Clean Water Act isn’t violated.
If we make a wrong move on this water quality trading on the Lower Boise, we are not only going to affect the valley but we are going to affect the whole country. In regard to water quality trading, Alex’s group is a leader in the effort.
Brad said going forward; they were doing their first discharge permit when the City of Boise was finalizing their permit on the Dixie Drain. They utilized the same verbiage wanting to do the same sort of thing utilizing ground they already own that flows into the Dixie Drain and they were told no. So on the new permit cycle, is EPA’s position with all the other cities, no we will wait to see what happens with Boise’s project. Bill said that once the TMDL is done, EPA will be looking at this.
Bill said he is a staunch supporter of water quality trading. He thinks it is a way we can get more conservation on the ground in agricultural areas. Through his career he has been a supporter of farms and farmers. However he also believes you can do a good job at farming without fouling up all the water you are using.
Bill said they have had a bunch of meetings all over EPA Region 10. The idea is to get States to work together to come up with some boundaries for water quality trading. So we are not all different from each other. What they are waiting for from Idaho is a new set of guidance on water quality trading. The word is this guidance is in tech review. They haven’t included the EPA in on this guidance. Once it is done, they are going to update the Lower Boise trading framework.
Alex said the Freshwater Trust is a nonprofit organization and have opened an office in Boise in the last year. Water quality trading is something new they have started to get into the last several years. They have a long history of habitat restoration and flow augmentation. Flow augmentation specifically in Oregon where they helped pass legislation to make beneficial use also included in instream flow for fish habitat.
They were stakeholders in developing the water quality framework in Oregon. That effort concluded in 2009. The City of Medford was the first city that utilized water quality trading and they used it for temperature. So they got into the business of analyzing watersheds for producing temperature reductions and phosphorous reductions and costing out for wastewater utilities what an compliance alternative would look like.
They have contracts with the Cities of Boise, Nampa and Meridian. They also have a contract with Idaho Power in relation to relicensing of Hells Canyon Dam.
They feel the Clean Water Act was very successful for several decades. But like all similar things it is kind of showing its age. It does not address nonpoint sources.
In the Lower Boise, there is a large percentage of the phosphorous problem that is coming from nonpoint sources. Water quality trading is a mechanism where you can pay for reductions in the nonpoint source and help you get into compliance.
In terms of the very basics, how are nonpoint source reductions going to happen. It is going to be voluntary. What water quality trading allows you to do is identify the potential worst day in regards to your discharges and offset to keep you in compliance.
In the City of Medford, they were looking at spending $16 million on a holding pond. They contracted with them for $10 million to build a riparian project to reduce the temperature on the stream. They did this work by contracting with landowners for 20 years to rebuild the habitat to reduce the temperature in the stream. It has generated credits for the City that they can use to come into compliance.
Brad asked if the EPA looks at the 100,000+ septic systems across the treasure valley as insignificant. He was involved with several meetings where they touched on septic systems but there is no qualifier on them in the TMDL. Bill said it is a real hard thing to quantify as they don’t even know where they all are. It will have to be dealt with sooner or later. They have a person in their office who is an expert on this issue.
Alex said ideally you can get the Lower Boise off the impaired list. How do you get there? Maybe 20% of the investment comes from municipalities, 10% of that investment is on your lot, 10% of the investment comes from nonpoint sources and some of these industries are going to have to incentivize land owners to utilize practices to be more sustainable. 319 funds need should be spent effectively.
Water quality trading is never going to fix the water shed. It can only help to use public compliance dollars more effectively on water quality. Tammy said it goes back to our drain ditches. They can still be effective delivery systems but they can also be used to clean the water as it travels through that area. And she said she doesn’t know how you are going to do water cooling if you don’t start shading those drains.
Alex said, to date farmers have been cutting down that vegetation. If they were getting paid to not cut down the vegetation and someone was coming in and restoring that vegetation to be better than what would occur naturally, then potentially they would be more agreeable to that. Tammy said they would do that if they thought they would come through later and dredge it out.
Bill said there are a lot of things that can work on irrigation systems. There are some projects that have been looking at to address these things. Alex added that if those trees along the drain are valuable, the models can help us determine that value. Water quality trading allows you to do that.
Brad said Greenleaf doesn’t discharge directly into the river. They discharge into the five mile creek. So his question is if his plant is discharging 70 degree water, by the time that water goes through the creek (drain) it is going to mix with ground water and the air. Their discharge would not be measurable by the time it mixes into the Boise. Why do we have to go through 10’s of millions of dollars when their discharge won’t be measurable by the time it meets the river?
Alex said this allows you the flexibility of saying let’s look at the point of discharge, is the point of discharge creating lethality for native fish? If it is not, then you could trade your way out of it. It is the reason why they would advocate that you revegetate not on that stream but on the Boise or a tributary that does have a big impact on the temperature of the Boise.
Bill said the problem in Idaho is if it is undesignated and it is water of the U.S., then Idaho assumes it has cold water aquatic life in it. There is a controversy over something called man-made waters. The agency is working on this he doesn’t know how it will turn out.
Brad said in their case, they discharge into a man-made structure and then falls 20+ feet into the Dixie Drain and there is no way a fish could ever come into the structure. Alex said, to Bill’s point, they have lawyers to help build a clear position in your permit to clearly define that.
Bill said in the case of the Dixie Drain, they met continually with the environmental groups to and kept them fully on board and they haven’t had any problems so far. These groups are not automatic barriers. But if you get them involved from the beginning on any trading paradigm, they will see the benefits and won’t be as likely to be a problem.
Alex said the Freshwater Trust wouldn’t be so invested in trading if they didn’t see the benefit for conservation and also the public at large. Obviously, you folks will look at the economics associated with your plant and if there is an economic benefit to trading by looking at the water shed, then this makes good sense.
Bill said that temperature is a mystery right now but it is coming soon. Alex said the EPA folks he has talked to support pre TMDL trading. So in the case of temperature, there is some opportunity prior to a temperature TMDL being developed. What they would look for is to provide some clarity on how a temperature project could be of benefit prior to the TMDL being generated.
Programs Available under the Farm Bill – Kris Berg
The Natural Resource Conservation Service formerly the Soil Conservation Service, is an association of local Soil Conservation Districts. In Idaho there are 50 local Soil Conservation Districts. We work in cooperation with these Soil Conservation Districts and they have 30 field offices around the State.
They are the advocate for natural resources in agriculture. They do a lot of work in partnership with local entities including the Soil Conservation Districts, environmental groups, and different federal land management agencies. Their focus is on private land conservation both agricultural and nonindustrial private forest lands.
One of the unique things about the NRCS is they have no regulatory authority whatsoever. They are there for voluntary conservation efforts. They provide technical assistance which means they would go out on the ground and assess the condition of the resource and help a person develop a conservation plan. Also, they have the opportunity to help the land owner in implementing recommended conservation practices where they can provide some financial assistance to develop those conservation practices.
There is risk in conservation. When you change your management practices or you install a structural practice that requires a lot of up front capital, it is very difficult for smaller land owners to absorb that cost and still be economically viable.
She is going to go through a summary of what is available under the Farm Bill and then she will discuss how municipalities and individual land owner can work together. A lot of times agriculture and residential development are in conflict. But they can work together to increase the social benefits of conservation.
They have an Environmental Quality Incentives Program which is their main financial assistance program which brings the most dollars to Idaho. On average it is around $10 million annually that is available to help with conservation practices. It is available to private land owners and provides financial assistance for a wide variety of practices. Almost anything associated with agricultural production falls under one of their conservation practices.
Their programs don’t pay for 100% of these conservation practices. There is still a certain amount of funding a land owner must provide (roughly 25%). A landowner is eligible for up to $400,000 in financial assistance.
Land owners compete for the funding and they rank the project applications based on what is going to provide the greatest conservational benefit. If they help someone with a drip irrigation system, they work with the landowner to make sure they know how to use that system.
They also have a Conservation Stewardship Program which looks at the entire land unit a person operates. They pay them over a period of five years to step up their conservation just a little. Bob asked what this means. Kris said, for example let’s say a farmer uses flood irrigation. Their goal is to improve their irrigation efficiency. They are going to help them go from a flood irrigation system to a sprinkler system. From there, they can still improve in irrigation efficiency by using soil moisture monitors to make sure the crop is getting the appropriate amount of water where it is needed at the roots of the plants.
One of the other programs they have which brings about $2 million into the State is their Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. This program has two components. We have the Ag land easement component which is a working lands program. It looks at Ag lands and the threat of development. What they do is purchase the development rights to the property to allow that land to still operate as an agricultural operation. They have used this quite a bit in the Sun Valley area. The way it works is they work with a land trust organization or an organization whose purpose is to hold conservation easements.
They also have a program called Wetlands Reserve Easement which is for the purpose of improving wetland areas.
They have a Regional Conservation Partnership program. This is new under the Farm Bill. They work with partners and challenging them to double the conservation investment they are putting into enhancing and protecting our resources. So for every dollar NRCS brings to the table, they work to double the investment with partners. This program allows them to target finding to land that is identified as having concerns such as water quality.
Brad said one of the longest term crops in their area is Hops. They are a 25-30 year stand. Could we work some program where they would pipe discharge out of the treatment plant to that Hop field and they would put in a drip system so there would be not water leaving their property. Kris said this would be a great partnership opportunity. They could assist the landowner with the on-farm type practices and the partners could assist in developing the delivery system.
Kris said the other partnership opportunity that Alex alluded to is the Conservation Innovation Grant. This is a program that is available to local government to look at innovative ways to implement new technologies in the area. There have been several Conservation Innovation Grants looking at how to set up water quality trading programs for example. In the State of Idaho they have had conservation districts purchase no-till drills and have put together seed banks and to install cover crops.
Kris said they can assist with riparian restoration for reducing water temperature and they can assist with installing filter strips to help collect nutrients and sediment as it runs off the field. There is a lot of common agricultural practices they can help a farmer implement to improve the environment and water quality.
Bill thanked everyone for coming to this year’s Strategic Planning Meeting. He feels this is a good thing, not because of the educational component but what happens outside the agenda.
Bill pointed to a handout on the financials for the fiscal year. The end of the year budget shows that we were over budget approximately $1,500 compared to a projected deficit of $2,500. The reason the projected deficit was $2,500 was, last year the TVP members decided to increase his pay by that amount after the annual budget was set.
For the Annual Planning meeting, when we switched dates in April, it increased our costs for the meeting quite significantly because our requested homes were not available on the new dates. However we still were able to keep our costs a little under our budget for the meeting.
The previous year, he asked to reimburse Laura Holton and Sandy for their work preparing meals during the meeting. Even though, this will raise our costs for the meeting, he would like to do the same thing we did last year, which was to give them $200 each for their work. Motion made to provide this reimbursement, seconded and passed unanimously. Brad abstained.
Overall, our financial picture looks pretty good. We will have at the end of September, a bank balance of $43,834.79. And we have a reimbursement from the Dept. of Corrections for the fiscal year that is outstanding of $8,750.00. This would leave us with total assets of $52,584.79.
Tammy suggested that when we send our invoices out to the Dept. of Corrections, that we cc the TVP Officers on that invoice. This is a nice soft way of saying there are eyes on you.
Bill said with regard to the Statewide SAUSA effort, he has been working a lot with Rick Youngblood. Three weeks prior we met with U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson. Rick wanted to meet her and hear the particulars of the SAUSA from her. When we were done with the meeting he said he was reaffirmed as to what a good thing the SAUSA program is.
Rick has been pushing to have the Statewide SAUSA on the agenda for JFAC during the legislative session and to have us present at meetings this fall. Bill said the person that sets the agendas for JFAC has been pushing that as well. Her commitment is that at the very least she will set up a meeting with the JFAC co-chairs and any others that want to attend.
Tammy said we can thank Mayor Paul Loomis. He was so hard hitting and a passionate advocate for the program. Bill added that he just refused to take no for an answer in the Governor’s Office and hence their one-time reimbursement is $70 for this fiscal year. Paul was emphatic with both the Governor and the Dept. of Corrections Director, that if they don’t get at least the $70,000 this next year, the SAUSA in Eastern Idaho would go away.
Tammy asked if they were moving forward up north. Bill said, no they weren’t. The effort at least for the time being has died.
Jim and John said they recently went to a homeland security meeting. It was supposed to be an open and candid discussion about terrorism threats. John said the theme really revolved around the radicalization of college students.
John has had many discussions about the anti-terrorism capabilities of our larger cities. They are really getting more sophisticated. Softer targets are getting to be more attractive to people that want to do us harm. The Boise Metro area is a soft target.
There was a lengthy discussion around terrorism and the potential dangers involved. Several members expressed concerns over the questions of what can we do and what should we be doing about terrorist possibilities in our own jurisdictions.
John said the FBI presentation during the meeting was very informative and would like to have a follow-up in the Partnership so we could vet the issues. Tammy concurred that we should invite the FBI to our next meeting and we could each bring our chief/sheriff to the meeting. Bill said he would set it up.
Water Quality Trading
Brad said another thing that he doesn’t know how to get his arms around is water quality trading. Bill with the EPA said he is pushing the TMDL through faster than any of us thought it would happen. The TMDL has a vague framework that alludes to trading, but it doesn’t delineate what the trading is. What he is concerned about is all of us have our waste water folks are trained on one segment, but they are not specialized nor have the education or experience on the trading mechanism.
He is concerned, how we as the targets are going to be at the table when the framework for these trades gets developed. Bill said he has it on his notes to follow-up with Barry Burnell to see if he would like to come to one of our meetings, maybe November, to talk about the trading framework. It was suggested that we invite our waste water treatment personnel to this session when it occurs.
Brad added that one of the things they did not want to deal with in the TMDL is septic tanks. He was able to get the TMDL to allude to septic tanks. A septic tank drain field is a ground water contributor for phosphorous.
Brad stated that Kris Berg with NRCS mentioned yesterday that the municipalities can partner with individual farmers by having money on the table that we never even considered before. Bill added that having a good connection to Kris will be a way you can find the farmers that want to participate in a water quality project.
Tammy said she had Jonathan Parker come to her and alluded that the water users are up to something. She asked Brad if he knew what this was about. Brad indicated it is the refill issue and the deterioration of their water rights. Brad added they look at the cities as a large operator and they are appalled that we are not at the table on this issue.
Darin said, the cities of Middleton, Caldwell, Nampa and Highway District No. 4 have a scope and cost to do a corridor plan for Middleton Road from Hwy. 44 to Greenhurst.
Darin said he has a land owner that has said he is going to disconnect from city water and will be installing a domestic well. What is the approach?
Brad indicated if Middleton has a base rate, he will still have to pay it? He continued that they had a similar instance and said they required them put in a full cased well and they can only use the water for irrigation. Bob said, their ordinance says if city water is available people have to use it.
Darin asked if anyone is opposed to him talking to Matt Stoll with COMPASS figuring out how to get involved with developing a mass transportation (rail) plan. No one seemed opposed to beginning the discussion.
Bill asked if there are any future agenda items the members would like to see. Darin said he would like to get some information on the trends in America. The other would be what can we learn from our youth and prepare. For example, in the future, data transmission volume and speed will be the deciding factors on the haves and have nots as individuals and communities. He wants Middleton to have fiber-optics otherwise it is a sure death in 20 years.
Brad said the trend seems to be for multi-unit housing than it is for single residential. As far as his community and the other small communities around Greenleaf, they don’t have any land-use ordinances or mechanism to deal with this.
Tammy said it is a good topic to start to look at learning what the needs are for this upcoming generation. Brad added that maybe we can get a college professor in to one of our meetings that studies demographics that may be able to help educates on the new generation.