Barber Dam, Built In 1904, Springs Small Leak On Boise River

Barber Dam, Built In 1904, Springs Small Leak On Boise River »Play Video
BOISE -- A small leak at Barber Dam, the little hydroelectric facility on the Boise River about a mile upstream from Barber Bridge, is causing concern.

Ada County owns the dam, built in 1904, and leases it to a private company, Enel North America, which uses it to generate a small amount of hydroelectric power.

County commissioners say they found out about the leak a week ago.

But if Barber Dam had to spring a leak, now is probably the best time of the year for it to happen because the Boise River is low.

"If the water level was high and the dam were actually to break, it would have a much larger impact," said Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre. "And from what I understand, this is not the first time it's happened, obviously the dam is about 100 years old and from time to time it springs a leak."

Temporary repairs have reduced the flow from the small leak which is on the east side of the rock crib dam below the water level.

County officials says there's no danger right now that the dam will break, but they say the problem will only deteriorate if something's not done right away.

"We've got the right people involved to react quickly," said Yzaguirre.

That includes the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the dam operators, the Army Corps of Engineers, county engineers, homeland security as well as FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

And the neighborhood and homeowners associations have been notified.

"We're of course concerned about it," said John Marshall, president of the Harris Ranch Homeowners Association, "because we have several homeowners and homes that are in the area below the dam. So we're monitoring the situation."

And in an e-mail to the county, the water resources department says a plan to repair the dam has been approved and should move forward as soon as possible.