Water

Supreme Court Justice Scalia To Speak At Idaho Water Conference

Jun 23, 2014
Shawn / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will visit Boise in August to give the keynote speech at a conference marking the end of a nearly 30-year water adjudication process.

The University of Idaho announced the upcoming event is sponsored by the Idaho Supreme Court, the Kempthorne Institute, and U of I’s College of Law.

Scalia is speaking at a conference celebrating the end of the Snake River Basin Adjudication process which negotiated water rights in Idaho. That adjudication started in 1987.

Idaho is starting the process of taking over wastewater permitting from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, under a law that quietly cleared the Idaho Legislature earlier this year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is boosting the amount of water flowing in the Snake River in an effort to help native fish between Palisades Reservoir and Shoshone Falls.

Michael Beus with the Bureau of Reclamation in Heyburn, Idaho told The Times-News that the faster, deeper flow will give native cutthroat trout an advantage over invasive rainbow trout.

The bureau has been increasing flows every year since 2004.

Coeur d'Alene River, water, Idaho
Threefatcats / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials plan to spend $38 million in northern Idaho's Coeur d'Alene River Basin this summer cleaning up toxic pollution left from a century worth of mining in the region.

The Environmental Protection Agency tells the Coeur d'Alene Press that up to 125 residential and commercial properties will be cleaned up.

Agency spokesman Ed Moreen says that more than 17 miles of paved roads in eight upper basin communities will be repaired or replaced.

Chinook Salmon, fish
Pacific Northwest National Lab / Flickr Creative Commons

The Snake River's fall chinook salmon are making a comeback.

There were just 78 wild chinook salmon counted at the Lower Granite Dam in 1990. Last year, more than 20,000 of the wild salmon were counted, and 75,846 wild and hatchery-born fall chinook total.

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Flow in the Boise River set a record low this week. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, flow Thursday at the Glenwood bridge on Boise’s west side was the lowest ever recorded on May 8. 

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades.

Irrigators, hydropower dam operators and tugboat captains are sitting pretty across most of the Northwest according to the latest regional water supply forecast.

Lochsa River, water, Idaho
Keith Ewing | Idaho Fish and Game / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's Clearwater and Lochsa rivers have made it on a list of top 10 most endangered rivers in America. The list is put out every year by American Rivers, an advocacy group that works to protect and restore rivers in the U.S.

water, boise river
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Those managing water flow in the Boise River Basin say they plan to keep the river at its current level for the foreseeable future.

The river is been flowing at roughly 1,800 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Street bridge in Boise.  The flow last week was around 300 cfs and then increased steadily over the weekend.

Snake River Area Office Water Operations Manager Brian Sauer says the outflow at Lucky Peak reached 1,800 cfs for the first time this season at 8 a.m. Monday.  Flood level is 7,000 cfs.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added a southern Idaho county to its list of Idaho regions considered natural disaster areas because of drought.

The department designated Elmore County a primary natural disaster area, making farmers and ranchers in the county eligible for natural disaster assistance. Other Idaho counties with federal natural disaster declarations include Ada, Boise, Custer, Owyhee, Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Twin Falls.

Idaho Transportation Department

 Idaho water managers this week filed an application for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. The state's Water Resource Board continues to study the feasibility of building a new dam on the Weiser River. 

The Galloway Dam Site would include a 40-60 megawatt hydropower plant.  The project would be located 13.5 miles upstream of the confluence of the Weiser and Snake rivers.

The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating a problem for migrating salmon.

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam over a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

In central Washington, state officials and farmers are scrambling to save orchards at risk of drying up because of a drawdown of the Columbia River.

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