Hydroelectric project on Payette River to last until 2017

Credit: Troy Colson / KTVB

Hydroelectric project on Payette River to last until 2017

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by Karen Zatkulak and KTVB.COM

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KTVB.COM

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 7:58 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 5:44 PM

Emmett, Idaho -- A third hydroelectric station at the Black Canyon Dam and Power Plant near Emmett is scheduled for construction next Fall.

Funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, the new project will come at a cost of $53 million and is designed to capture overflow on the Payette River to generate more electricity, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Project officials say they new station means several major changes for those living in and visiting the area.

WHY IT'S NEEDED

Bureau of Reclamation project manager Chris Vick says the new generator will produce 12.5 megawatts of electricity once installed. Vick says the two units currently in use produce ten megawatts in total, and that means a doubling of the total power generated from the Black Canyon hydroelectric station.

Vick says the project will power about ten thousand homes when completed. About 20 percent of its output will be used  for irrigation.

The new unit will be used during high flow periods, according Vick.

"We're currently spilling water certain times of the year, so instead of spilling water over the drum gates, we're going to run it through a hydroelectric unit and then produce clean renewable energy from that," said Vick.

The Black Canyon Diversion Dam and accompanying power plant was built in 1925 as part of the Payette Division of the Boise Project.

CONSTRUCTION IMPACT - RECREATION

Vick says the project will close down the nearby 10.5-acre Wild Rose Park, which is popularly used for weddings and other events.

According to Vick, the park will be closed starting in September of 2014, and will remain shut down for the next two summer seasons, reopening in 2017.

Vick says the park will be used to house heavy equipment and construction crews.

Snake River Area Manager Jerry Gregg says closing down the park is necessary for safe construction, and that four nearby parks will stay open.

"We know this park is popular with local residents and visitors, but it is the only location where the construction can be safely managed," said Gregg.

Groups will be able to reserve all of Cobblestone Park for special events during the construction period.

"All other parks in the area will remain open and offer a similar recreational experience as Wild Rose Park," said Gregg.

CONSTRUCTION IMPACT - WATER QUALITY

The project has also raised concerns about the water quality of the Payette River during construction.

The Bureau of Reclamation says the reservoir will have to be lowered twice, which could force more sediment downstream.

"There's currently a lot of sediment that comes through the dam, but when you drop the reservoir and lower it back up, more sediment does pass through the dam," said Vick.

Vick says they are now working with the Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho Fish and Game to develop a plan to monitor the water quality.

ADDRESSING PUBLIC CONCERN

The Bureau of Reclamation is holding a public meeting to address any concerns about the project.

The meeting will be held Tuesday night from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m, and will take place at the Kenneth J. Carberry Intermediate School, at 1950 E. 12th Street in Emmett.

"The purpose of the public meeting is to address the public's concerns we haven't had an opportunity to talk to the public about what we're doing here, so we want to talk to the public and tell them what we're doing, and then listen to their concerns and hopefully address them," said Vick.

After a brief presentation, people will be able to visit information stations where representatives will explain what will take place as construction moves forward.

The topics discussed include the project scope and schedule, the environmental assessment process, water quality and fish impacts, along with recreation.

Construction is scheduled to begin in September of 2014, and should be complete by March of 2017.

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