Agricultural activity in the Boise and Payette River Valleys started in the early 1880's when settlers began filing on desert lands under private irrigation enterprises. By 1900, about 148,000 acres had been placed under irrigation. It quickly became evident that storage and distribution systems were needed for a dependable water source to serve the lands at high elevations. In response to petitions by local irrigators, the Boise Project was initiated by the Reclamation Service shortly after the passage of the first Reclamation Act of 1902.
The Secretary of the Interior authorized construction of the original Boise Project on March 27, 1905, and the Black Canyon Dam on June 26, 1922, under provision of the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388).
Black Canyon Dam and Power plant is a multiple purpose structure that provides benefits to both irrigation and power. The plant supplies power to irrigation loads in the Boise, Owyhee, and Minidoka Projects as part of Reclamation`s Southern Idaho Power System. Surplus power is delivered to the BPA for marketing and distribution to regional industries and municipalities.
Black Canyon Dam is a concrete gravity diversion dam with a structural height of 183 feet and gated ogee overflow spillway. Two direct-connected turbine-driven pumps, located in the powerhouse, serve the Emmett Irrigation District Canal on the north side of the river.
The powerplant has a capacity of 10,200 kilowatts. The nameplate capacity of 4,000 kW was increased to 5,100 kW for each generator with the installation of forced air cooling in 1972 and a stator rewind/upgrade in 1995.
A short transmission line connects the Black Canyon Powerplant with the lines of the Idaho Power Company while another line supplies the `C` Line Canal Pumping Plant.
The Boise Project furnishes irrigation water to about 225,000 acres of project lands and 165,000 acres under special and Warren Act contracts. The irrigable lands are in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon.
The 114,000 acres in the Payette Division receive water from the Payette River and surplus drainage from the Arrowrock Division. At Black Canyon Dam, water is diverted into the Black Canyon Canal and then into the distribution system. Storage features are Deadwood Reservoir on Deadwood River and Cascade Reservoir on the North Fork of the Payette. About 20 miles below Black Canyon Dam, a pumping plant lifts water from the main canal into a lateral system serving 26,014 acres.
A feasibility study has been completed for a third generating unit. Design work is substantially completed and under review.
Future Planned Activities
Construction of a third generating unit. Construction of a new switchyard.
The powerplant is operated as a run-of-the-river plant, although operational releases from upstream reservoirs are coordinated to maximize power generation when possible. Siltation of the reservoir continues to be a long-term concern, but does not currently impact power operations or maintenance.
Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Northwest Power Pool Area
PMA Service Area
Bonneville Power Administration, Southern Idaho Power System
Original Nameplate Capacity
Year of Initial Operation
Title: Power O&M Manager Organization: Organization Fax: 208-383-2275 Phone: 208-383-2266
More Information about the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation