Idaho Power is committed to doing its part to maintain and improve water quality in the Snake River. Our role is to serve not just our customers’ need for power but to do it in a way that serves the environment in which we live. That’s why water quality is at the top of our list.
While our dam operations affect water temperatures, research has shown many forces above our dams contribute to issues with the quality of the Snake River’s water. Idaho Power is committed to working with landowners and state and local governments to ensure the Snake River continues to be a vital resource in our region.
Bacteria and Algae
Bacteria and algae are vitally important to freshwater ecosystems. Cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria commonly referred to as blue green algae. When cyanobacteria begin to grow rapidly a bloom can result. This is a natural occurrence, but these algal blooms can create a potential hazard for humans and animals. Water users should take note of whether visible blooms are present in areas where they or their pets or livestock may come into contact with the water.
Blue green algae blooms can be unsightly and vary in appearance. These blooms can appear as visible green, blue-green, or reddish brown foam, scum, or mats that float on or near the water surface, especially near the shoreline.
Blooms may appear at different times of day. They may be associated with foul odors either during the bloom or after the algae begins to die.
Most algae neither reach nuisance levels nor become harmful to human and animal health. A harmful algal bloom (HAB), however, can occur when certain types of algae are present in high concentrations or produce toxic substances that can harm people, pets, and livestock.
HABs are most often caused by cyanobacteria. Humans who drink, swim, or enjoy other recreational activities in water that contains high concentrations of cyanobacteria or cyanobacterial toxins may experience diarrhea and vomiting, skin irritation, allergic responses, or liver damage. The toxins tend to accumulate in the internal organs of fish, so eating fish not properly cleaned could pose health risks. Animals, including pets, livestock, and wildlife, are also at risk of illness or possible death.
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