Black Canyon Reservoir is empty
Drawdown was done to do work on the dam
Draw down while work is done on dam Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Black Canyon Reservoir has pretty much been drained dry. Some folks in Emmett turned to Today's Six on your side to find out why it's empty and why the river downstream is so muddy.
The empty reservoir is a pretty amazing sight that hasn't been seen in Emmett for decades, but, the question is why? We went to the Bureau of Reclamation and got the answer.
"With all that ice, it looks pretty cool,” said Darrell Lankford.
The Black Canyon Reservoir hasn't looked like this in a long time. Darrell Lankford has lived in Emmett for 72 years and he's never seen a sight like this.
“No, I haven't seen it this low before I’ve seen when they lowered it down, but this is clear to the bottom," said Lankford.
All that's left in the giant cavern are ice chunks and blocks of snow, but the Bureau of Reclamation says they have good reason to drain the reservoir. They're doing prep work for a proposed third generator.
Experts say they needed to work on the dam without any water in the way and the drawdown was necessary for them to compile some critical data.
"It's definitely rare, in this case, but it's an exciting project for us, to add clean energy generation to our facilities, and we are taking advantage of the drawdown to do inspections, perform maintenance, on features we aren’t' normally able to access, or easily access,” said Vickie Hoffman, Bureau of Reclamation.
"They probably took all the fishing out for a little while,” said Lankford.
As for concerns about fishing below the dam, experts say what's being carried downstream right now is not harmful.
“The water being discharged from the dam is picking up sediment that's collected over the years behind the dam, so it's just picking up that sediment and carrying it downstream past the dam, so it's muddy and turbid,” said Hoffman,
The bureau says it will start filling the reservoir back up again at the end of the week. In the meantime, while the work is going on they also advise people to be careful on the riverbanks. The drawdown has exposed a lot of shoreline and there are some real unstable banks.