Reclamation to Decrease Flows at Palisades Reservoir

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HEYBURN, Idaho - The Bureau of Reclamation will reduce flows from Palisades Reservoir this week from 1200 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 900 cfs beginning February 5 and ending on February 8.

Reclamation's decision to decrease flows is based on the February forecast which predicts spring runoff in the Upper Snake River basin at 92 percent of average, which is a slight decrease from the January 1 forecast. Reclamation's analysis shows an increasing chance that continued winter releases of 1200 cfs may limit Reclamation's power generation capability at Palisades Dam in the middle to latter part of the summer irrigation season if the runoff outlook continues to deteriorate.

During the irrigation season, Reclamation makes releases from Palisades Dam to move water downstream for irrigation that typically exceed the powerplant capacity. Releases that bypass the powerplant represent a lost hydropower generation opportunity.

So far this winter, moving water downstream to American Falls for irrigation use next summer has allowed Reclamation to generate power at flows well below powerplant capacity. This has limited lost opportunities for producing hydropower in the summer, which benefits the regional power grid. The reduction in flows now will help preserve Reclamation's ability to produce power later in the summer after irrigation releases have once again dropped below the powerplant capacity.

"Low-cost power generated at Palisades Dam benefits regional retail power customers and many irrigators who rely on surface pumping stations or groundwater wells to deliver water," said Roland Springer, Reclamation's Upper Snake Field Manager. "Although delivering water for irrigation purposes remains Reclamation’s first priority, we also manage our operations for the benefit of multiple purposes including power generation."

Reclamation consulted with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to set a ramping schedule that meets fishery requirements in the South Fork of the Snake River.

"We will focus on continuing our productive partnership with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, irrigation managers, and others to wisely manage this critical resource as the region faces the potential for a dry summer," said Springer.

Palisades Dam, completed in 1957, is a multipurpose facility located on the Snake River where it provides irrigation water, hydropower, flood control and recreation. The dam is located about 55 miles southeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at

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