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Despite warm temps, stay away from Boise River

Posted at 6:50 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 08:50:28-04

"It's dangerous, it's going to be dangerous for quite some time given these flows.

 Officials can't be more clear.  Stay away from the Boise River.

"Right now is not a time to recreate on the Boise River,says Scott Koberg with Ada County Parks and Waterways.  "We just want the community to be safe and we'll let you know, we'll let you know when it's time to come back and be friends with the river, but right now give it it's space."

 When that time to come back will be, however, isn't clear.

"Floating is an afterthought.  At this point in time in the community, flooding is the primary concern and public safety, obviously, being the utmost concern right now," says Koberg

As temperatures start to rise and summer creeps into the valley the river may prove tempting for some, but ultimately, that temptation could be disastrous.  

"The biggest danger as always is probably cold and the fact that the water is moving, so those two are in a combination that if you're not prepared then the cold can get you because you become pretty incapable of swimming," says Boise Fire Department Captain Scott Hall.

 It's not just the cold, swift water either.

"With the water moving as fast as it is, then you can become involved with the strainer, which at these flows, where we have all the water flowing through the trees, there are a lot of strainers out there right now," Capt. Hall says.

A strainer is any obstacle in the water that could snag somebody.

The fire department works to clear those hazards up and down the river every year, but right now the river is flowing so fast, almost 9,000 cubic feet per second, they can't do that work.

"We usually wait until the flows come down to closer to normal range, usually around 2,000 CFS, we can start getting an idea of what needs to be removed, what needs to be looked at," explains Capt. Hall.

 In an average year you could expect the river to open to floaters around the first day of summer.

"This is not an average year, we know that, the float conditions and the amount of water in the mountains still in the form of snow is tremendous, it's record breaking," warns Koberg

Defy the warnings to steer clear of the water and you could find yourself face to face with members of Boise Fire Station One, who are fully equipped with a dive team for water rescues.

"I'm told that it's possible because we've declared the river to be at the danger level, that any rescue efforts that are put in, by the City of Boise, a person could be responsible for those costs,"  says Capt. Hall.

So for now, and for the foreseeable future, heed this advice from Koberg:

"I mean I don't know how much more clear it can be, stay away from the river.