Member Login

Boise Public Works director talks about the city’s sustainable future – and Micron


Boise Entrepreneur Week

BoiseDev full coverage

City of Boise Public Works Director Steve Burgos spoke at Boise Entrepreneur Week about the city’s sustainable future. 

Burgos talked about the 4,300-acre farm the city owns south of town and how it is being used to make Boise regenerative.  

“We apply our biosolids for local crop production, and the revenues from the crops go back to the wastewater plant… At that facility, we decided to build the net-zero admin and maintenance building,” Burgos said. ”And part of what was an experiment to see… is this going to work? How do you design one of these things? Will it actually perform as we think it should? And then what learnings can we share with the community? It turns out it was very successful, but the efficiency of the building is incredibly tight. And then the renewables are all over performing. And so we’re actually net positive or taking the energy that we’re producing from that building to offset some of the energy used by the pivots at the farm.”

Burgos said the city is working with Micron for the first recycled water program. He said they would “see how it plays out,” but it would be one of the most advanced systems in the country.

“What that will allow us to do is to protect the water, the natural resources of the water supply for the City of Boise long term because we can kind of isolate Micron there, work with them on their sustainability goals, and almost create like a closed loop system for water. Long term, that’s really good for our community,” he said. “We’re going to be tapping into other sources of water. So that becomes one of those very sustainable and resilient solutions. We know droughts are coming. We see those, we’ve had really difficult drought conditions, and we would have had a really awful summer this summer. If not for those rains in April, May we got, in my opinion, very lucky. So thinking long term, we’ve had some folks actually say, ‘we’re not in a crisis. Why are you guys doing this?’ I don’t want to wait for the crisis.”

Fast growth, looking for new ideas

He also talked about the fast growth in the city and how the idea is for Boise to still be Boise in so many years and not just a replica of another major city. He said this means the city must start asking tough questions.

“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions in the coming years,” Burgos said. “Going back to water supply, going back to just development patterns, the growth coming to Boise is not abstract. We know in the next 50 years, we can approximate how many hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to Boise. It’s our obligation to start deciding where we want that growth to happen, to do it differently otherwise it’s going to be like every other city. I don’t want that, and I think the majority of Boise and don’t want that.”

A person in the audience expressed concerns about major companies coming to the area to raise capital and develop it, all while increasing the cost of living and taking recourse away. 

“The city does not have to say yes to every project, and the Micron announcement, from my perspective, is an incredible opportunity to show how you do it differently,” he said,”… What’s exciting about the Micron opportunity is they are aligned with us on a lot of major issues relating to growth, to water, to natural resources that ESG perceptive and then we have to make some hard decisions not just city government we all are engaged in this.” 

With constant growth comes questions surrounding climate change and how these large companies coming to Boise affect it. 

“We’re going to keep getting hotter and dyer someone told me the other day we need to stop thinking of this as the hottest summer on record and more of the coolest summer in the next hundred years,” Burgos said. “So we’ve had several drought years and we likely have several more coming… were going to have to adapt to that.. but if we can at least start to reduce quickly, our emissions and the one to two-degree question of global warning we got to get moving and I think that is going to be some of the message we have for some of the companies.. ‘We really need you to be engaged on some of these issues, we can’t keep digging this hole deeper.”

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

Start your day with all the local info you need.

Unsubscribe any time
Related stories