Too Much Water For Sockeye Salmon

It seems counterintuitive, but the famed “red fish” sockeye salmon at the Idaho Fish and Game Eagle Island hatchery could be victim of too much water.

F&G staffers are trying to defy gravity with sandbags to keep the Boise River from overflowing its banks and flooding the hatchery.

Each morning staff members from Fish and Game’s Eagle Hatchery patrol the irrigation ditch along the Boise River checking for leaks. Endangered sockeye salmon are housed at the facility and the fear is flood waters reaching the well or the electrical pumps that keep water going to the fish.

The irrigation ditch has been reinforced with sand bags where leaks have sprung. Building the banks higher with sandbags is not an option because the flood waters would just go elsewhere, damaging neighboring properties. So for now, the staff has stacked bags around the lowest buildings and are prepared to spread more sandbags if the river continues to rise.

“We have about five thousand bags filled up right here that we can put around other buildings if needed,” said Dan Baker, Eagle Hatchery manager. A contingency plan is also in place to move the fish to another hatchery if flooding causes the hatchery to lose power.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Kent Goldthorpe
    Mar 27, 2017, 4:45 pm

    Thank goodness for the contingency plan. Today’s flood declaration may get some attention.

  2. Concerned Neighbor
    Mar 27, 2017, 5:50 pm

    I would think that building the banks higher wouldn’t threaten surrounding areas any more than currently because the amount of water would be far greater than could run off at the hatchery.

    The fundamental problem is the Fed holding off far to late in releasing water because of a calendar date instead of adapting to reality. They knew there was a heavy snowpack back in January.

    All canal repairs could have been completed in the fall. Flush some of that water into the empty aquifer. Build more reservoirs so that we have 2 or even 4 years of water – that’s the only thing that worked for Australia during their last drought.

  3. I think it’s unfair to criticize the folks who manage water in this situation. What they don’t know in January is what will happen for the rest of the season and how the runoff will come off (quickly to the reservoirs or slowly with more soaking into the ground). If they come one drop shy of filling all three reservoirs, the farmers scream. And if they need to increase flows and cause some flooding, the folks who built their houses on the river scream. It looks to me like a combination of science, experience, art, and luck.

  4. Stupid question
    Mar 28, 2017, 10:23 am

    Would it be helpful for citizens to begin using water from their hoses in their yards to lower the amount of water in the res.? Would the water company lower the price so that could take place?

    EDITOR NOTE–Nearly all of the domestic water in Boise comes from the underground aquifer. A small portion is taken from the river and treated, but compared to the water flowing down the river, use would be nearly unmeasurable. Irrigation water use will help some–like filling Lake Lowell through the New York Canal, but unfortunately water taken out of the river upstream ultimately is returned downstream through storm sewers or drains.

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