Our Farmland, Our Future: The Effects of Urban Sprawl on the Water Infrastructure in the Treasure Valley

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Beau Hansen


Through tremendous effort and expense an extensive irrigation infrastructure was built up in the Treasure Valley in the early 20th century to support agricultural and mining activities. Not too long ago the city of Boise was surrounded by farms and ranches supported by this infrastructure. However, due to continued population growth in the valley, previous farmland has been converted to suburbs, impacting both the existing irrigation infrastructure as well as its ability to deliver water to farmers who have been pushed further out. Our research focused on how urban sprawl is affecting the canal infrastructure put in place to support agriculture in the valley. To gauge how urban development may be affecting water access we interviewed different stakeholders such as urban farmers and our project sponsor Maria Minicucci, who proved to be a tremendous resource of knowledge regarding the topic of water rights and use in the Boise area. We also investigated archival data from the city and numerous other online resources, with a specific focus on the location of new developments in relation to the canal laterals and access points. We found that poor planning, mapping and communication between irrigation districts, zoning committees and the city has led to deterioration of infrastructure and in-efficient water use in the valley. We conclude that immediate action is required to address the misuse of water infrastructure in the valley. Without such action Treasure Valley farmers may face water shortages in the future.

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