Idaho is blessed with abundant wild rivers, but our cities are often where water and river issues are most pronounced. From Boise to Pocatello and Twin Falls to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho's urban centers are our homes and places of business—and important areas of focus to improve water quality and quantity in the Gem State's rivers.
For more than 10 years Idaho Rivers United has been a leader in the effort to raise awareness in the state's capital city, Boise, where the Boise River is both threatened and cherished—from its headwaters to its mouth.
Once the second most polluted river in Idaho, the Boise River is now one of the most popular and valuable natural assets in southwest Idaho. During a three-month period in the summer, more than 100,000 people float on a river where once the water was polluted with slaughterhouse refuse. And thousands more enjoy the fishing, biking, bird-watching and other recreational opportunities the river provides.
Tremendous quantities of food are grown with water from the Boise River in Ada and Canyon counties, including beans, onions, mint, sweet corn seed, vegetable seeds, tree fruit, wine grapes, produce, alfalfa and sugar beets. United Water of Idaho relies on the Boise River for about 20 percent of the drinking water it delivers to its customers.
Determined and visionary citizens and policy makers worked tirelessly to clean up the Boise River and make it the vibrant and attractive resource it is today. Urban river stewards have breathed new life into polluted and forgotten rivers in many Idaho cities. Equal effort is now required to ensure that the Idaho's urban rivers remain clean and free-flowing for future generations of Idahoans to enjoy.