Reclamation, BPA Complete Successful Restoration Of Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Steve Jarsky, (208) 383-2266

For Release: August 13, 2004

The Boise Diversion Dam has been a familiar landmark in the Boise Valley since construction was first completed in 1908 to divert water for irrigation to farm fields downstream. The only noticeable change to the dam came in 1912 with the addition of the powerplant, which still stands today.

That historic structure is located 7 miles southeast of Boise on the Boise River. The dam has just received a new lease on life, thanks to a dedicated crew that worked continuously over the last three years to bring the small powerplant back on line to generate electricity once again.

"We are in fact restoring power for generations," said Reclamation Manager Jerrold Gregg. "The construction crews and electricians who worked on this project brought with them the same positive work ethic seen in the original crews nearly a century ago."

The Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration joined in partnership to keep the feel and look of the historic dam intact, while working to introduce new technology into the heart of the powerhouse itself.

Because Boise Diversion Dam and Powerplant are not open for public tours, Reclamation is working with the Idaho Historical Museum to create an exhibit to outline its past construction and present-day technology. The exhibit should be available to the public in October.


The final stage of a three year retrofit of the Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant was recently completed by crews, who installed the three turbines and generator assemblies that are now delivering power with greater efficiency than the original designers could have imagined back in 1912.

In 1912, the Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant was added to provide electrical power for construction crews building Arrowrock Dam located 11 miles upstream.

"Although the powerplant has undergone a complete facelift internally, we made certain that it retained its historic character," said Reclamation Project Manager Steven Jarsky. "Most of the powerplant building and the equipment on the main floor is in mint condition, looking much the way it did nearly 92 years ago."

Jarsky said the new electronic control panels installed on the main floor of the powerhouse are out of view, and the new hydro-generators are smaller and occupy the lower two floors.

Boise Diversion Dam Powerplant is on the National Historic Register. From early on in the project Reclamation decided to try and retain as much of the original equipment as possible to retain the historic flavor of the plant.


Beginning in June 2001, Reclamation crews gutted the turbines and generators and began work to replace the aging units with state-of-the art hydro-generation works. The generators and major components of the turbines were replaced. But due to the unique design and character, many original parts of the water turbine assemblies were refurbished and put back into service.

Crews managed to install new technology, new control systems, and new governors without much change in the appearance of the powerhouse.

The 92-year-old plant was placed in reserve status in 1982 because of high operations and maintenance costs required for the outdated generation equipment. BPA funded the powerplant upgrade shortly after the nationwide hydroelectricity price surge in 2000.

The powerplant's three new generators are able to produce a combined maximum generation of over 3.4 megawatts, enough power to heat and light approximately 2,500 homes.


Local media will have an opportunity to tour the restored dam and powerhouse on Monday, August 23, starting at 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Reporters will have a chance to interview representatives involved in the restoration and to see an area normally not open to the general public due to security reasons.

Very brief opening remarks will be given by Reclamation Commissioner John Keys and representatives with the Bonneville Power Administration who will be on site with staff to tour the facility and respond to questions.

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.