Flood flows create new challenges on Boise River

Crews are working to make sure enough irrigation water gets into both channels of the river.

BOISE - The Boise River is now flowing at a rate closer to normal, but things are far from normal otherwise.

Crews are still finding problems related to flooding like an enormous gravel deposit.

They were out on the river to distribute the flows between the north and south channels to make sure everyone paying to use the water has access to it. And it has been more of a challenge after the flood flows we saw this year.

"If adequate water is not available in each channel we would not be able to supply the irrigation needs of our district,” said Pioneer Irrigation District Superintendent Mark Zirschky. “So we'd have irrigation patrons, farmers, homeowners, cities, things like that, that wouldn't have water to provide to their customers."

Right now Zirschky says everyone has been getting water, but they're at that point where they need to start the diversion so it stays that way.

"We need about 250 cubic feet per second in the north channel to satisfy their rights. This morning we were at 170," said Boise River Watermaster Rex Barrie.

While this is something they do every year, Barrie says it's more complicated this year because of the high flood flows we've seen.

"Well, last year there was an opening on this side about twice as wide as it is now, it was shallower, but we didn't have the huge gravel deposits that you see now," said Barrie.

Meaning all of this material moved down river during the high flows, and that created concern.

“We were on very high alert for weeks and weeks and weeks in fear of losing diversion structures,” said Zirschky. "What's the river going to do? We were really hoping that we didn't have to exceed 10,000 cfs past Glenwood and we made it."

Now that river levels are closer to normal, they are just now being able to see the damage caused by flooding.

"Some cutting, obviously some deposits, it creates a challenge not so much during the high flows but after the flows recede then we can actually get out on ground and see the damage and find out what we need to do," said Barrie.

Barrie says diverting the water usually takes one or two hours. This year, they spent more than three hours on the project.

There is a chance they might be out again Tuesday to make sure the water is going where it needs to.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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