A utility company is manually transforming the Snake River to make water cooler.
In order to keep up with regulation standards, Idaho Power is lowering the temperature in areas of the Snake River that are wide and shallow.
Channels that are broad with little depth, have warmer water leading to more algae and less oxygen for aquatic species.
“Certainly in extreme cases it can lead to fish killed,” says Senior Biologist Stacey Baczkowski.
To cool river temperature, Idaho Power began work in July to narrow and deepen a channel by widening two islands just downstream of Walters Ferry.
“They excavated the channel between the mainland and Bayha island to make it deeper, then placed fill to create a floodplain to narrow the river channel,” says Baczkowski.
The channel was just two to three feet deep, and after the dredging will be as much as eight feet deep.
The small islands that are mainly used for duck hunting and fishing are home to noxious weeds, which will be removed and replaced by native trees designed to provide shade in the future - contributing to cooler water.
“You will probably see some change quickly but it will probably take a little bit of time, hopefully you will see a healthier cleaner system,” says Baczkowski.
The project is expected to wrap up in November and is the first of many planned for other areas along the Snake River.