Boise river levels rise, water managers expect lower flows

Posted at 10:54 PM, Mar 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-23 00:55:05-04

Melting snow and Thursday's rain is contributing to increased flows in the Boise River this week.  

With an increase in flow this week the Boise River is now moving at 1,200 cubic feet per second.

Brian Sauer is the water manager for the Bureau of Reclamation he said the levels are a little high.

"It is higher than the 250 cubic feet per second that we have run through most of the winter," Sauer said.

Sauer added although the levels are high they are not unusual.

"With the snow coming on and our reservoirs being full of all the water we had last year we are having to make space because our snowpack is still building in the hills," Sauer said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation are planning on increasing river flows by another 1,800 cubic feet per second before March is over. These releases will help reduce the risk of flooding later in spring, which can happen with rapidly melting snow and seasonal precipitation.

To put things in perspective, the snowpack in the watershed right now is at 80 percent while last year around this time it was at a 120 percent. Last spring flooding also brought erosion on the riverbanks and flooding to several neighborhoods in canyon county.

"Based on our current forecast we are not anticipating at all seeing the kind of flows down the river that we had last year," Sauer said.

He further explained that large sums of snow and rain and warmer temperatures could change things.

So as always be cautious around the river.

"And as the flows come up, it does get faster, and you might be surprised, so we certainly don't encourage the public to get into the river this time of year," Sauer said.

A full supply of irrigation water is anticipated this summer.