Minidoka Dam & Spillway: Rebuilt Structure Spills Spring Flows

[music] Ryan: This year is really unique because this is the first year we get to pass some serious
flows. Today, we’re passing 14,000 to 15,000 cfs
through the structure right here. [music] Ryan: The dam was originally built in 1907 and the spillway subsequently after that. Once it reached the end of its functional
life in the early 2000s, the decision was made to initiate a project whereby we’d replace
the existing structure. And so the structure you see right behind
us today was constructed between 2012 and 2015 to achieve that. [music] Roland: The old spillway used to be a manually operated with what you call stoplogs, wooden stoplogs. They would actually go out and lift those
out periodically in different spots in order to control the water flow. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that has to
go out there and lift that stop log, and believe it or not they did that all the way until
about three years ago. [music] Ryan: And that capacity was replaced with this radial gates that you see behind me where
the radial gates would now be used to manage the flows by, as opposed to the stoplogs,
which gave us significantly greater operational flexibility. Roland: Now that we can remotely control these
gates and monitor them 24 hours a day, seven a week, we’re just thinking of the safety
benefits of that. I mean, we could control the water at a moment’s
notice. [music] Roland: Well this year was probably the biggest in probably 20, 22 years of snowfall. Ryan: You know, we did. We had a real wet year. For example, in February, the average amount
of precipitation we typically get in a February, in 2017, in the first six days of February,
we had already crossed what we typically get in the whole month. Our goal is to fill the system so we have
that water for agricultural purposes. But when you have more water than you can
hold, you have to convey it downstream. We go into flood operations for the purpose
of making space in anticipation of large runoff so as to not increase flood potential downstream
from the structures. [music] Ryan: The neatest thing to me about this structure is just the sheer fact of how much water it’s
capable of moving and still control it remotely. That’s pretty unique. Roland: Reclamation is proud. If you think about it, we’ve got brand new
irrigation canals, BID and MID canals, so the irrigators are happy. We’ve got an entirely new spillway that’s
controllable remotely. We can control all water flows down to a minute
amount up to a great amount where years past you couldn’t really do that. It was hit or miss. We added all new river gauges downstream so
we can really monitor the flow carefully. The wetlands, they’re provided water in a
certain way that they all get their fair share. We’ve got a nice Lake Walcott that is maintained
at a constant level now. So I think it’s really, really been a feather
on everybody’s cap, I believe. [music]

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