Make no mistake about it, water is our most precious resource in Meridian. Due to the low snowpack this past winter and extended hot weather, low water supply in reservoirs is impacting many parts of Idaho. With this hot summer and little-to-no rain, I know people are concerned about how the City is positioned to provide drinking water and water for outdoor use for residents. Rest assured, while there is a lot of talk about the supply of irrigation surface water this year, the City is well positioned to deliver quality drinking water to our residents, with no concerns for providing ample potable water.
The City has been proactive in measuring, evaluating, and protecting our ground water sources, our primary drinking water supply. Staff have been monitoring groundwater levels at locations throughout Meridian for over 25 years. Monitoring records indicate that the groundwater resource is continuously recharged to replace our yearly use and can supply Meridian’s current and future potable supply needs.
While our drinking water supplies are healthy, most of Meridian’s homes and businesses use surface water from irrigation districts to water lawns and landscaping. This irrigation water is fully dependent on the snow pack and weather patterns throughout the year. More snow and cooler weather usually means more water in the reservoirs for irrigation use. Hotter weather and less snow pack means less water in the reservoirs to use. When this scenario happens – like this year – irrigation districts may shut off their water earlier than expected.
Having surface irrigation shut off early may have residents and businesses turning to the City water for lawns and landscaping. Before you take that action, I ask that you consider the necessity of your watering needs to help conserve as much water as possible.
As I stated at the beginning, water is our most precious resource in Idaho, and for us, groundwater is our long-term need to survive as a community in this high-desert region. Second, our water system is not designed for everyone to use to water their lawns at the same time. This could impact our ability to provide potable water for the uses it is intended for.
To help, the City has a Water Conservation and Supply Contingency Plan for years such as this. These plans identify stages that would limit or eliminate outdoor water use either voluntarily or with mandatory limits or rotations, without impacting or limiting any type of indoor water use. While we hope to not have to utilize these plans, conservation efforts from everyone up front can help all of us in these efforts. If you would like to know more about our water conservation and contingency plans you can reach out to our Public Works Department at 208-898-5500.
As an organization, the City takes steps to conserve its groundwater resource. In hot and dry years when irrigation water is turned off early, our Parks and Recreation simply maintains the lawns to conserve water. Parks may not be as green and lush as in normal years, but this is an example of what we can all do at our homes as lawns can be kept healthy and alive until the spring when they can bounce back.
In addition, there are many ways to conserve water at home every day of the year. Simple steps like turning the water off while washing dishes or brushing teeth, fixing leaks early, and using your sprinkler system early in the morning or late at night to avoid excess evaporation. For more water wise tips, check out the Water Division’s annual report HERE.
As we move forward through this summer and into future years, rest assured that the City will continue to produce and provide quality water to our residents. With water being as valuable as gold to many in Idaho, I urge you to consider what you can do to protect this precious resource and be water wise not just today, but every day.