Boise River nears flood stage

Boise River close to flood stage.

BOISE - If you've been along the Boise River Greenbelt recently, you've probably noticed some areas are blocked off and completely under water, and that the river is higher and faster than usual.

"I've lived here for over 20 years and I've never seen it this high before," said Connie Rodwedder who walks five miles along the Greenbelt every day.

Boise Parks and Recreation officials say there are three closures impacting the Greenbelt so far - including under the Parkcenter Bridge at Logger Creek, the entire Bethine Church River Trail and the path near Marianne Williams Park.

Officials say above-normal snowfall during the winter means above-normal runoff levels now.

"It's our goal to keep it as low as we can but still keep safe amounts of space in the reservoir system," said Brian Sauer, a water operations manager.

Sauer says while this winter has been quite unique, technically the levels we're seeing now aren't too unusual. 

"We were last there three or four years ago, so it happens," said Sauer. 

Officials say the amount of precipitation in the Boise Basin is three times the normal amount.

"That's why we're making space in the reservoir system," Sauer said. "We need to start making space now to avoid problems further down the road."

They're making space in anticipation of a streamflow forecast for this spring that's 170 percent of average.

"We'll probably have inflows into the reservoir system that are much higher than what we're seeing through town," Sauer said.

In order to make that space, Sauer says they are going to have to raise the reservoirs up to almost flood stage.

"We'll be right at the 7,000 cubic feet per second flood stage," Sauer said.

It has caused large sections of the Greenbelt to close. Sauer says although it varies each year, they usually start this process around the third week of March. 

"It's been a while since we've had to release this much water this early," Sauer said. "But with the bigger snowpack we need to start earlier to keep the flows down."

Sauer says the river should reach flood stage early next week. He also says because the river is moving so fast, if you are on the Greenbelt you should be extra cautious - especially if you're walking with your dog or children. 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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