Snake River flows dropping

Snake RiverFile photo: Snake River below Swan Falls Dam can get pretty rocky at low flows – Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman

Snake River flows below Milner Dam, located between Twin Falls and Burley, will drop to zero this week as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ends water releases for completes spring salmon flows from the Upper Snake River system.

The Bureau releases water from upstream reservoirs each spring to benefit salmon and steelhead as they travel downstream to the Columbia River and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. Those flows are ending, and the water being released below Milner, which was at 2,360 cubic feet per second (cfs), was starting to be reduced Sunday, June 2, until it reaches 0 cfs by Tuesday, June 4.

This will affect river floaters and powerboaters and anglers all along the Snake River. 

Flows over Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls will be between 300 and 400 cfs. Anglers and other recreationists should be aware of the falling river levels as well.

Flows at Milner are expected to remain at zero cfs until late July.

Virtually all releases in the Snake River upstream of Milner will be diverted for irrigated agriculture. Return flows may appear downstream, but the end of the Bureau’s spring release will result in very low flows downstream of Milner, to Brownlee Reservoir. The river level below Bliss Dam is expected to drop 2.5 feet from current levels.

Low snowpack and a dry spring throughout the Snake River Basin have resulted in unusually low runoff. Mid-Snake flows have not been this low in June since 2004. River levels may drop even lower than they were in 2004 due to declining spring flows.

Posted in Into the Outdoors