Boise River Rises As Reservoir Capacity Dwindles

Apr 11, 2017

Dam managers at Lucky Peak are raising the flow of the Boise River to to 8,600 cubic feet per second by Wednesday and aren't ruling out further increases.
Credit Dave Thomas / Flickr

The brutal winter is still affecting the Treasure Valley as record amounts of snow have yet to melt and enter the complex system of reservoirs and dams that store runoff. To prevent a crisis in the event of a heat wave and to accommodate all the water stored in the snow, dam officials are once again raising the Boise River.

Dam managers at Lucky Peak plan to raise the Boise to 8,600 cubic feet per second by Wednesday. It could be just one more increase in a steady ratcheting up of the waterway’s flow. As water managers up the release to 8,600 cfs, there's still more than 11,000 cubic feet of melt-water entering the reservoir every moment.

According to the Statesman, over two million acre feet of water is stored in snowpack yet to melt and enter the Boise Reservoir System.  The system has less than 300,000 acre feet of capacity left. With further increases of the river's flow likely, federal officials warn even a slight increase above 8,600 could cause flooding in low-lying areas near the river in Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, and Garden City.

Privately, water officials have said the river could be raised to as high as 12,000 cfs for a month. They say running it that high would avert unleashing it at 20,000 cubic feet for a week which would cause significant damage.

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