Caring for the Snake River

The Snake River plays a vital role in providing electricity to more than 630,000 Idaho Power customers throughout southern Idaho and eastern Oregon. A healthy Snake River also benefits all other users irrigators, fishery managers, wildlife and people who enjoy the river for boating, fishing and other recreational uses. 

Idaho Power is committed to preserving the Snake River’s ability to provide clean water and clean power to our region for future generations. As part of that commitment, Idaho Power has proposed the Snake River Stewardship Program (SRSP) and other projects that address the causes of elevated water temperatures and other water-quality concerns.

Idaho Power has proposed the SRSP as part of relicensing our hydroelectric projects in Hells Canyon. It is included in the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certifications issued by the Idaho and Oregon Departments of Environmental Quality in 2019.  These certifications are available at the Idaho and Oregon DEQ websites.

What Projects has Idaho Power Undertaken?

Restoring River Channels

Our in-stream projects include the creation of floodplains and wetlands designed to reduce water surface area, increase water velocity and increase channel depths. This reduces the surface area exposed to heating, decreases aquatic algae and plant production and improves fish and wildlife habitat.

Planting Native Vegetation

We restore native vegetation along key tributaries of the Snake River by planting new vegetation. This shades sections of these waterways, provides more diverse fish and wildlife habitat and helps prevent sediment and pollutants from entering the water. We have already planted approximately 20 acres of riparian vegetation along the Powder, Weiser and Little Weiser rivers. 

Reducing Runoff

  • We’re working with farmers in the Grand View area to convert traditional flood and furrow irrigation to sprinklers. This uses water more efficiently while reducing the amount of runoff entering the Snake River.
  • Further upstream, our partnership with the Riverside Irrigation District in Boise prevents at least 15,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Snake and Boise rivers each year. Reducing phosphorus helps to limit algae and aquatic plant growth. This reduces the amount of plant material that ends up downstream in Brownlee Reservoir, where it uses precious oxygen as it decays.

This wholistic approach to water quality in the Snake River, along with proposed improvements to our hatchery, recreation and wildlife habitat programs, is the cornerstone to meeting our licensing obligations. We will fully implement the SRSP once we receive a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We will continue to monitor and maintain research projects for the life of the program and license.