Idaho water officials discuss river levels, spring runoff

Idaho water officials monitor reservoirs.

BOISE - When it comes to the conditions of local rivers, officials say the combination of wet weather patterns and periodic releases from reservoirs can lead to flooding and the high flows we've been seeing.

At a monthly meeting at the Idaho Department of Water Resources, officials say coming off of a record-breaking winter has made it difficult to predict exactly what will happen when spring rolls around.

"We have a lot of water and we have to move it through town safely," said Brian Sauer, a water operations manager. 

That has been the task at hand for officials as rivers around the Valley reach, and in some cases surpass, flood stage.

"Right now the March precips coming in much like it did in February, so if this continues there's going to be concern that the forecast is going to increase even more come April," said Water Supply Specialist Ron Abramovich.

So officials are drafting reservoirs to make room for snowmelt from higher elevations.

"We may get rain that high up to 7,000 feet but the high snow isn't going to be melting yet," Abramovich said.

The Boise River has been overflowing the Greenbelt in a few areas, and it's just over flood stage, according to the gauge at Glenwood - moving at 7,200 cubic feet per second.

RELATED: Boise River reaches flood stage; free sandbags available

"We try to keep the flows below flood stage when we're moving water through town and that allows us to make space in the reservoirs," Sauer said.

At the same time, officials are trying to keep enough space in the reservoirs so when the runoff does occur, the reservoir will catch it and then officials can let it out at safe levels.

Troy Lindquist, with the National Weather Service in Boise, says they've been watching soil conditions and snowpack - which are big factors for flooding on the Weiser River.

RELATED: "I don't know how much longer I would have made it," rescued Weiser man says

Officials say levels in the Weiser Basin are set to go to flood stage late Thursday night into Friday morning. 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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