Boise River

Screen grab / Bureau of Reclamation

The three big reservoirs on the Boise River started summer with a good bit of water left over from the previous year. Altogether, they are a little under half full right now. That’s below normal, according to Brian Sauer with the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise.

“And we’re still in irrigation season so it will drop some more,” Sauer says.

Boise State Public Radio

If you could help reduce water pollution right in your laundry room, would you? As you unpack your fleece jacket when autumn rolls in, there’s new information that might make you reconsider how - and how often - you wash it.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of groups and individuals concerned about the health of the Boise River has released an enhancement plan and wants public feedback. The Boise River Enhancement Network (BREN) says the natural resource needs serious help in four areas: water quality, fish habitat, riparian areas and the river channel itself. BREN wants cities, counties, farmers and others who rely on the river to work better together to protect it.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Thousands more people in the Treasure Valley may be required to buy flood insurance in the near future.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is revising its floodplain maps for the Boise River, and a lot of neighborhoods near the river could be added, requiring more home and business owners to buy potentially costly flood insurance.

Barbara Horne's neighborhood in Eagle is one of those. Horne walks her dog around the pond behind her house.  The pair could reach the Boise River in five minutes. Despite living so close to the river, Horne does not have flood insurance.

Boise River
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

About 100 people showed up at a meeting Wednesday night to hear what caused an east Boise dam to malfunction in February, and what steps are being taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Part of the Boise River was reduced to nearly a trickle for about eight hours overnight on February 4 when a power grid fluctuation caused the Barber Dam to shut down. Ada County owns the dam, but leases the hydroelectric plant to Enel Green Power.

Boise River
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The public will have the chance to talk with elected officials about a power outage that caused the Boise River to dry up earlier this year. The Ada County Commission is holding a meeting on May 27 to discuss the accidental dewatering. / Flickr

Arrowrock Dam is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. “It was a monumental effort,” says Kelsey Doncaster. He’s been studying the dam as a historian with the Bureau of Reclamation Columbia Cascades area office in Yakima, Washington.

He says it’s a marvel of engineering that keeps irrigation canals in the Treasure Valley full, while controlling flooding of the Boise River.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Federal agencies will release more water to flow on the Boise River Friday.

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers will increase flow from 240 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 750 cfs through the city of Boise. / Flickr Creative Commons

It's still not clear what caused last week's malfunction at the Barber Dam in Boise. As we reported last week, the Boise River backed up behind the dam after an apparent power outage shut down the plant late Tuesday night. The river dropped well-below normal flows for almost eight hours before the dam's operators got it back up and running.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Fish and Game biologists are looking closely at the shallow areas of the Boise River right below Barber Dam. They're trying to determine how many trout hatchlings may have died when the river's flow dropped dramatically earlier this week.

Suzba / Flickr Creative Commons

After a power plant's alert system failed causing Wednesday's dramatic drop in the Boise River flow, Idaho Fish and Game biologists are concerned about potential impacts to wildlife. The river went from flowing at 290 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 81 cfs in a matter of hours.

Barber Dam's power was restored early Wednesday morning, constricting the flow of water for nearly eight hours.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

This story was updated at 4:55 p.m.

You might have noticed the Boise River was lower than normal Wednesday morning. At midnight, the gauge at Boise's Glenwood Bridge showed the river was flowing at 290 cubic feet per second (cfs). At 10:45 a.m., the river had dropped to just 81 cfs. 

Ryan Hedrick is a hydrologist at the Bureau of Reclamation, the agency that controls the flow of water to the river at Lucky Peak. He says the significant drop this morning was due to a problem at a Boise hydroelectric plant in the middle of the night.

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Flow in the Boise River set a record low this week. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, flow Thursday at the Glenwood bridge on Boise’s west side was the lowest ever recorded on May 8. 

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Those managing water flow in the Boise River Basin say they plan to keep the river at its current level for the foreseeable future.

The river is been flowing at roughly 1,800 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Street bridge in Boise.  The flow last week was around 300 cfs and then increased steadily over the weekend.

Snake River Area Office Water Operations Manager Brian Sauer says the outflow at Lucky Peak reached 1,800 cfs for the first time this season at 8 a.m. Monday.  Flood level is 7,000 cfs.

I spent 15 minutes entranced watching the Boise River sparkle and the fall leaves rustle on the computer screen in my windowless studio.  U.S. Geological Survey hydraulic engineer Molly Wood talked about the features of the USGS Boise River web camera while I played with the controls. I zoomed in on trees upstream and flipped it around to see the cars on the Glenwood Bridge.

Chinook Salmon
Roger Tabor / USFWS Pacific

Chinook salmon haven't returned naturally to the Boise River for decades, since dams downstream on the Snake River blocked their passage.

But the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be stocking 300 to 400 Chinook jacks in the Boise River Monday.

The jack salmon are young Chinooks that return to fresh water earlier than other spawning adults.

They're about half the size of typical Chinooks that return to rivers.

One Man's Mission To Clean The Boise River

Aug 31, 2012
Jessica Murri / Boise State Public Radio

Chris Nelson stands on the bank of the Boise River put-in in his full-body wet suit. He has flippers on his feet, and snorkel gear around his face. He clips a 23-pound weight belt around his waist and ties a small raft to it.

“As far as I know, I’m the only nut that swims the whole stretch,” he says.

People getting ready to float the river stare. His raft drags behind him as he flip-flops to the water.

Atlanta Gold Company Fined By Judge

Jul 20, 2012

A U.S. District Judge handed down a penalty today and issued a warning to a company trying to mine gold in Idaho.

U.S. District Judge Mikell Williams has ordered Atlanta Gold Company to pay $2-million dollars in fines for not following clean water laws. Judge Williams also ordered it to comply with the federal Clean Water Act by the end of October or face even more penalties.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The City of Boise Thursday officially opens its whitewater river park. Building it has been a long process.

Boise’s Park superintendent Tom Governale remembers when he first heard the idea of a whitewater park in Boise. It was 14 years ago.

Tim Merrick / US Geological Survey


The Boise River is under a flood warning for the next several days.   Dave Groenert  is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. He says that warning will remain at least for the next seven days as temperatures rise. “They (temperatures ) look to peak at the middle of next week Wednesday,” explains Groenert. “And then after that cool back to normal.”