Bear River hydroelectric system operator notes flooding potential is very high

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power, the hydroelectric system operator of the Bear River system in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho, has been closely monitoring spring runoff conditions in the Bear River basin. Due to high snowpack, it concludes that the potential for flooding is very high all along the Bear River below Bear Lake, including the area between Wardboro and Bern in Bear Lake County, Idaho. Also of particular concern is the area between Grace and Cleveland in Caribou and Franklin Counties, Idaho, and between Collinston and Corinne in Box Elder County, Utah.

“Based on runoff forecasts, we believe there will be serious flooding of the Bear River into its historic flood plain,” said Connely Baldwin, Rocky Mountain Power hydrologist. “There are many naturally occurring factors that could influence the extent of flooding, including how rapidly snow melts and the possibility of a local heavy rainstorm. These conditions are likely to exceed those of 1983-84, 2011 or 2017 because current snowpack levels greatly exceed those high flow years.”

Local emergency management officials are aware of the situation. The Bear River hydroelectric projects have tested emergency operating plans that include provisions for coordinating with the National Weather Service and local public safety officials in the case of impending high runoff events or more serious emergencies. Rocky Mountain Power urges residents in proximity to the Bear River to monitor these information sources until the threat of spring runoff subsides.

Rocky Mountain Power or its predecessor companies have operated the hydroelectric systems on the Bear River and at Bear Lake since development began in 1909. The primary goals of the project are to provide irrigation water for some 150,000 acres of farmland and generate hydroelectric power.