Folks with the City of Bozeman celebrated a new, long-term plan to secure a water supply for the next 50 years. The city commission adopted the Integrated Water Resources Plan on September 30th. We went to the Better Bozeman Project Waterfest, Saturday, to find out what the plan means for residents and why it's so important to the City of Bozeman.
Experts with the City of Bozeman estimate the population to grow to 140,000 people in the next 50 years, bringing the demand for water to an estimated 9.35 billion gallons.
"The growth of our community and our ability to be able to expand, take on new businesses and new homes is directly tied to our ability to be able to provide and treat water and treat wastewater," explains Bozeman Mayor Sean Becker.
Becker says the Integrated Water Resources Plan has been in the works for a couple of years but tells me commissioners were on a much different path in 2008. He tells us the city commission was hoping to build a dam up Bozeman Creek drainage, but the three new commissioners elected in 2009 had different ideas.
"We tapped the brakes on that project and took a look at a more comprehensive perspective of all of our water resources," says Becker.
Becker explains city experts also took a look at the cost benefits of those resources.
"In terms of rate-payer, we found a lot of efficiencies in the system through this study that will result in real savings for the community over time," Becker says.
To capitalize on those efficiencies, Becker says they'll use tools, like underground water containment, capitalizing on existing water rights, acquiring new water rights in Hyalite and water conservation.
We talked to Bozeman Project Engineer Brian Heaston. He says their study has identified several new water supplies they're looking forward to implementing, like groundwater and water efficiency measures. Yet, Heaston says it all starts with water conservation.
"To bring that demand down that we experience here in town. That gives us more time to plan for these larger capital improvements and then we'll know at what point in the future that we'll need to begin to pull in a larger supply," explains Heaston.
He tells us water conservation is a key component of our water supply future.
"We're making sure that we're being proactive right now to make sure there's no crisis in supply as we continue to grow to capacity," says Heaston.
In addition to celebrating the new Integrated Water Resources Plan, folks at the Better Bozeman Project Waterfest also had the chance to learn what it takes to run a water system, the process for detecting leaks, a closer look at how fire hydrants work and what it takes for the city to deliver water to your home.