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Register Now for the AIC Water Summit (January 22nd)

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Monday, January 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Water shapes economic growth, the environment, and the very social fabric of our communities. Ensuring that all people have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water and wastewater systems is the cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous Idaho, and nation.

Idaho’s population growth now outpaces Nevada and Utah at 2.2%.  However, while not all regions within Idaho may be experiencing this growth, all regions are grappling with changing weather patterns, new energy supply/efficiency options, growing income inequality, and water quality and quantity pressures that impact Idaho communities. 

Bottom line - each day more and more cities within Idaho are confronting an unsettling fact of life—our supplies of clean, dependable, economical water are more fragile than at any time in our recent history.  

AIC invites you to participate, listen, converse, and weigh in on our current water supply and quality issues. The 2018 Water Summit will focus on current and emerging water policy issues affecting cities including, but not limited to: water rights, water quality, and stormwater.  A key component of the 2018 Summit will be the selection of new regional representatives to serve on the AIC Municipal Water Users Group oversight board.

Register for the 2018 AIC Water Summit by January 17th HERE.

 

More Background & Resources

All people need access to the basics—water, food, shelter—in order to participate fully in society. When these basic conditions are met, our communities and our economy thrive. Water systems that do not deliver clean, affordable water to all people can exacerbate inequality and undermine our State's future prosperity. Communities that face various forms of water stress are vulnerable and frequently held back from full participation in the economy, lowered productivity and competitiveness.  Moreover, as water utilities work to fund the maintenance and operations of their systems, they need financially stable ratepayers.

In the face of these issues, how do we create a new era of water management in Idaho—one that secures economic, environmental, and community well-being?

The 2017 Association of Idaho Cities Municipal Utility Survey identified a number of key challenges with respect to equitable water availability and affordability.  These challenges include:

  • Aging, Inadequate, or Lack of Infrastructure 
  • Affordability
  • Small Ratepayer Base (Fragmentation)
  • Water Quality
  • Trained or Certified Operators

The 2017 Survey demonstrated that water supply and quality challenges vary from place to place.  Additionally, our legal frameworks for water predate modern challenges like bio-accumulative toxins or growing income disparity. 

In light of an increased understanding of the challenges facing Idaho, it is equally important to recognize the cumulative, reinforcing, positive impacts of equitable water management.  A recent report by the US Water Alliance sets forth a framework to advance water equity in America, organized around three pillars where progress is being forged:

  • Ensure all people have access to clean, safe, affordable water service,
  • Maximize the community and economic benefits of water infrastructure investment; and,
  • Foster community resilience in the face of a changing climate.

So, how do we create a new era of water management in Idaho—one that secures economic, environmental, and community well-being?  A series of "listening sessions" held in 2017 with water and wastewater utilities, private companies and environmental groups from across the country resulted in a report titled: "Seven Big Ideas."  These ideas seek to provide practical solutions, focused on policy and decision-making, to positively change how we manage our water resources and infrastructure," the group says.  The seven ideas are:

  1. Advance regional collaboration on water management.
  2. Accelerate agriculture-utility partnerships to improve water quality.
  3. Sustain adequate funding for responsible water infrastructure management.
  4. Blend public and private expertise and investment to address water infrastructure needs.
  5. Redefine affordability for the 21st century.
  6. Reduce lead risks, and embrace the mission of protecting public health.
  7. Accelerate technology adoption to build efficiency and improve water service.

Current AIC efforts include assessing whether Idaho laws and regulations constrain innovative approaches to integrating water policy either horizontally (i.e., across water sectors) or vertically (i.e., alignment with other investments in infrastructure, agriculture, environmental protection, and social equity). 

Keep up on these and other efforts by serving on the Municipal Water Users Group and the Water Re-Use Task Force.

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