Thursday, March 5, 2015

Boise WaterShed Raising $650K for New River Campus

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 12:02 PM

click to enlarge The new Boise WaterShed River Campus at the Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant will cost $3.1 million and should be completed by June 2016. - BOISE WATERSHED EXHIBITS, INC.
  • Boise WaterShed Exhibits, Inc.
  • The new Boise WaterShed River Campus at the Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant will cost $3.1 million and should be completed by June 2016.

Boise WaterShed Exhibits, Inc. is partnering with the city of Boise to build a new outdoor space called the Boise WaterShed River Campus at the West Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

The campus will include a scale-model interactive trail that will take students and visitors along the thread of the Boise River starting at the Lucky Peak reservoir and dam, winding through Boise to the fields that feed off the river, the Dixie Drain in Canyon County and, finally, the confluence of the Snake River.

On the morning of March 5, board members of nonprofit Boise WaterShed Exhibits went before business and community leaders at the Boise Chamber of Commerce to share designs of the river campus and ask for donations. 

"It was not so long ago that water treatment was out of sight and out of mind," said BWE Board Vice-President Mark Bowen. "Now we want to bring this to the forefront of our community, so they can understand the important role of this resource."

The presentation included facts about Idahoans' water use habits. For example, Idahoans are estimated to use 168 gallons of water per day—close to twice the national average of 90 gallons. That makes Idaho the No. 1 user of water in the country per capita. Threats to the Treasure Valley's water supply, like population growth and decreasing snowpack, make the role the water treatment facility plays in water conservation even more important.

The proposed 3.2-acre river campus will include an amphitheater for education and the largest collection of public art in the state, as well as a geothermal exhibit; a groundwater exhibit; and an interactive exhibit, created in collaboration with Boise State University, on future water strain.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $3.1 million, with funding coming from community donations, the Boise Public Works Department and the city's Percent-for-Art program.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter stepped forward to say a few words about the importance of the new project. 

"I remember growing up at a time when my parents said, 'Don't go in there,'" Bieter said, referring to the once-polluted Boise River. Now, he said the city's river and greenbelt system are the envy of mayors nationwide.

"We need to plant the seeds of how important these resources are in an easy and interactive way," he added.

The Bank of the Cascades presented the first giant check, for $2,000; followed by United Water of Idaho, for $35,000; then Republic Services, for $56,000. The city has also agreed to help pay for the cost of construction, which is slated to start in August and be completed by June 2016.

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