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Snake River Flows in Hells Canyon Reduced Further

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

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The amount of water in the Snake River continues to decline, prompting Idaho Power to further reduce the minimum flows out of Hells Canyon, to 6,500 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Water flowing into Hells Canyon fuels the three-dam Hells Canyon complex, which generates a significant portion of the electricity used by Idaho Power's customers in southern Idaho and eastern Oregon.

With water levels in the mid-Snake approaching record lows, it is essential that Idaho Power manage this resource carefully through the summer months. This means reducing flows to as low as 6,500 cfs below Hells Canyon Dam when power demand is low, so it's available when demand rises on hot summer days.

Idaho Power typically sees its highest overall system demand during the summer when air conditioners and irrigation pumps are in heaviest use.

For some perspective on the Snake River flows, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has put together some enlightening graphs.

The Snake River at Weiser is telling, because it's just upstream from Brownlee. It shows current flows near record lows and well below 2012 levels. Graphs for the Snake River at King Hill and at Nyssa, Ore., tell a similar story.

Flows in the Snake River above the Hells Canyon Complex have been declining for about two weeks. Inflow is expected to continue declining through June and into July. Idaho Power plans to maintain the current Brownlee Reservoir elevation through June before drafting the reservoir. Information about river levels and Brownlee Reservoir's elevation can be found on Idaho Power's website: idahopower. com.

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Original Publication Date: June 19, 2013

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