Crews working to clean up, fix issues in Boise River

Crews work to fix issues in Boise River.

EAGLE -- How could any of us forget the record flooding that hit the Treasure Valley this past spring?

Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, other times it feels like years ago. But those in charge of Boise River maintenance are seeing the effects almost every day - as they try to get things back to normal.

MOREFlows on Boise River reach 9,500 cfs for first time since 1983

Boise River flows are pretty much normal for this time of year, but officials tell KTVB the amount of water in each channel is not so normal, nor is the amount of deposited material. So crews are doing things a little differently as a result of last winter's runoff to try to get ahead of what's to come.

"We're a couple months early because we have so much work to get done," Flood Control District #10 Manager Mike Dimmick said. "This year we started around the first part of September. Normally we don't start until the first of December."

Dimmick says they started out in Garden City, removing willow trees that came down and caused water to back up and flood surrounding property earlier this year.

"We're going to continue until water comes up and we can't get in the river any longer," Dimmick added.

Managing debris in the river is definitely more of a challenge this year.

"This year we have hundreds of trees that are down: large trees, large root balls we're going to have to take those out," Dimmick said.

This fall, it's taking more effort to remove those hazards in order to keep water from escaping its banks earlier than normal come spring time.

MORE: Tree topples into river, causes flooding in Garden City

Currently, the river is flowing at about 400 cubic feet per second (cfs), but remember when it was rushing about 9,000 cfs higher? Because of that, tons of material and debris was swiftly carried down the river.

"That's got to go somewhere," City of Eagle Public Information Officer Tammy Gordon said. "There's a lot more than normal."

And a lot of it settled at the head of Eagle Island.

"We got an awful lot of gravel deposits all along the river, especially at the head of Eagle Island, which is causing the flow to split between the north and south channel to be really off set to the south channel too much," Dimmick said.

Along with tree cleanup, Flood Control District #10 is filing a permit with the Army Corps of Engineers, Water Resources and Department of Environmental Quality to clean up that deposited sediment in order to get flows back to normal before winter.

"Getting prepared for the 2018 runoff," Dimmick added. "If we don't do something at the head of the island then it looks like flows down the south channel will cause more problems."

Irrigators were out for a few hours on Tuesday as well doing work to remove sediment and balance the flows to normal levels before they shut off irrigation.

"The river is reaching its minimum flows at this time and we're taking precautions to ensure there's adequate water in the north branch of the river," Pioneer Irrigation District and Assistant Boise River Water Master Mark Zirschky said. 

Zirschky says they used dozers and excavators to remove sediment in order to re-route the water from the south channel to the north channel, and open the inlet up more. When irrigation season ends and they drop the water levels to minimum flows in the river, the north channel could fall below a desired level.

"That's what we were trying to achieve today was to eliminate that possibility," he added. "What we did today was just a drop in the bucket compared to what needs to occur when Flood [District] 10 goes in for their gravel removing process," 

The Boise River is still acting and looking different than in years past.

"Last year it was in pretty good shape. This year after the floods - it looks entirely different," Dimmick said.

"It washed away a lot of our vegetation," Gordon said. 

MOREBoise River flood recovery efforts will be costly and lengthy

Gordon says Eagle city officials weren't prepared for the extent of this year's flooding, but now they have the experience. 

"It is mother nature and she will do what she wants," Gordon added. "I think the problem possibly with earlier this spring is that we just weren't prepared for what could have happened."

But she says the city and Boise River maintenance managers are working on preemptive and preventive measures; Gordon says those who manage debris cleanup on the river have dug - or are digging - trenches near the Eagle Road bridge to ensure there's a place for water to go instead of waiting for it to accumulate.

Eagle city officials recommend that people who live near the river be proactive as well, and buy flood insurance now.

"Now is a great time to start putting it in place so by the time anything might happen you're already covered, you're ready to go," Gordon added. "Be a good homeowner and understand what your coverage will handle."
 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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