Final Kootenai River Flood Alert Information
Monday, June 26, 2006
This will be the last daily update.
Future news releases will be provided as
Bonners Ferry, Idaho - Residents,
farmers and business owners have been battling the Kootenai River’s high water
levels for more than five weeks and for some the fight is not yet over.
This morning, Incident Commander Bob Graham recalled, “We’ve been at
this since May 17th when the river stage rose to 1758 feet [above sea level].”
This morning’s public meeting at Bonners Ferry City Hall included a
photographic presentation on the impacts to the river, private residences,
businesses, farm lands, and other natural resources. The photos included many of the efforts of the local, county,
state and federal agencies responding to the flood, as well as the local
citizens who pitched in to lend a hand wherever they could.
The amount of
water being released from Libby Dam has been reduced, helping to lower levels at
Bonners Ferry. However, the overall
picture is more complex than simply dropping the outflow from the dam.
If the river recedes too quickly, the waterlogged banks and dikes are
even more prone to sloughing and erosion.
Downstream from Bonners Ferry, the Kootenai River empties into Kootenay
Lake north of the international border. The
level of the lake has been somewhat stable to dropping slightly for the last few
days. But the lake’s topography
continues to influence how long it will take seepage and high water to recede
from farmlands. The northwest corner of the county might take the longest to
Standing water and high water tables that aren’t readily visible
affect crops and growing vegetation by stunting the plant roots to the point
they simply quit growing. When the
water recedes and the ground dries out, the plant roots are no longer growing to
reach the water table; the plants wither and die.
As of this morning, more than 1000 acres of crop damage have been
reported to the Boundary County Agricultural Extension Service.
An amount that is expected to increase as waters recede and landowners
can make more accurate assessments.
The National Weather Service River Forecast Center is forecasting the
river stage to continue to fall as local flows into the river decrease and
outflows from Libby Dam are reduced. The
drop in the river level and forecasts for sunny skies and warm weather have
eased many concerns. Today
emergency response personnel continued assessing damages, removing sandbags
where water levels have dropped, and planning ahead to take care of needs as the
Kootenai River returns to more typical summer time flows.
Public safety continues to be a high priority.
Everyone is cautioned that the water-logged dikes/levees will be in a
fragile state until they have time to dry and become more firm.
Banks can slough suddenly and with little warning so everyone is asked to
avoid the temptation to try to get a personal look at the effects of the high
water. If the bank were to slough while a person was standing there,
it would be the same as getting caught in a cave-in or quicksand with little
chance of survival.
Emergency management officials remind everyone that Boundary County’s
Emergency Ordinance prohibiting non-governmental boats from the Kootenai River
is still in effect. Even with lower
water, the amount of debris in the river, cold water temperatures and currents
continue to be safety issues. The
potential for boat wakes to damage the river bank and dikes is still a concern.
Any person who feels they are in immediate danger due to river levels
should call the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office at (208) 267-3151.
Landowners who have experienced any losses or any type of damage during
the periods of high river levels are asked to report to the Boundary County
Agricultural Extension Office (208) 267-3235.
The City of Bonners Ferry and Boundary County are coordinating mosquito
abatement treatment options. Property
owners can reduce mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sources in standing water,
including bird baths, rain gutters, flower vases, ponds, etc.
Larger areas can be treated with pesticides that are effective against
mosquitoes in the larva and adult stages. Remember
to follow all instructions on the product label.
Kootenai River information is available from the River Forecast Center at http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?BFEI1