Boise Whitewater Park – Summer 2022 FAQ for Phase 1 and Phase 2
Last Updated: August 8, 2022
1. What influences the adjustable waves you can create at Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Boise Whitewater Park?
The Boise River is dynamic and so too are the conditions at the Boise Whitewater Park on any given day. The City of Boise cannot control the amount of water flowing through the park – our team can only work within current conditions to create as safe an experience as possible for a variety of users. If it’s determined that conditions do not permit a safe experience, a wave feature will not be put in place.
A variety of factors influence the wave feature that can be implemented at Phase 1. Water flow (cfs) and irrigation demands are important considerations. First and foremost, the city must fulfill its water rights requirements and meet the irrigation needs of Thurman Mill Irrigation District using the diversion at Phase 1 and Farmers Union Ditch Co. at Phase 2. Wave techs do their best to meet these needs while shaping the mechanical wave feature to create a safe experience that meets the needs of a majority of users.
During the summer of 2022, only monitored sessions are being held at the adjustable wave at Phase 2 of the park. These sessions require two trained wave techs be on site at all times to monitor use at this advanced, experts only feature.
Our wave techs follow all safety protocols and check conditions daily to implement the best wave features possible given all of the factors that impact the park. Users enter the park at their own risk and should always act as if they are entering a real whitewater situation.
2. How has water flow affected the Boise Whitewater Park this season (2022)?
Flows along the Boise River have been much higher during the summer of 2022 than in years past. Until August 3, the Boise River was flowing at 1,300 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Glenwood Bridge. That flow was around 700 cfs during the same time in 2021. Now that flows have decreased to “normal” summer flows, the features at the Boise Whitewater Park will more closely resemble the experience users have come to know in previous years.
The amount of water flowing through the Boise Whitewater Park is just one of a variety of factors wave techs must consider when creating features at the park. As water flow changes, the ability to create different user experiences changes as well.
However, please keep in mind that any change in irrigation demand upstream from the whitewater park can impact the features and user experience. Our trained wave techs are taught to analyze these fluctuations while implementing the safest experience possible, in addition to meeting irrigation requirements related to the park and river.
3. What are the latest updates on the Boise Whitewater Park and Phase 2?
Work has been completed on modifications to Phase 2, Drop Structure 1 at the Boise Whitewater Park. Team members from McMillen Jacobs Associates were on site from March 7 through March 11, 2022.
The scope of work included removing modifications previously installed at Drop Structure 1. The wave feature will be put back to the original configuration from the Phase 2 opening back in 2019. This change will allow for the temporary use of the wave for monitored sessions in 2022. Monitored sessions are offered Wednesday-Sunday from 9-11 a.m. as conditions allow.
Engineers at McMillen Jacobs Associates are working with McLaughlin White Water Design Group on alternatives for permanent modifications to the Phase 2, Drop Structure 1 wave feature. The goal is for these permanent modifications to be installed during the 2022-2023 winter season.
The city’s partnership with Farmer’s Union Ditch Company (FUDC) is an important priority with the management of the adjustable feature in Phase 2 – The configuration of the wave feature needs to provide a constant upstream pool elevation for FUDC water delivery needs during the irrigation season. This is a legal obligation that must be met and can impact the activation or deactivation of the wave feature. Above all else, we must meet irrigation demands at the Boise Whitewater Park in order to operate.
4. Why do you need to host monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave feature?
The Phase 2 adjustable wave is an advanced, expert only feature. Monitored sessions are held with two wave techs who are knowledgeable about the wave setup and trained in swift water rescue. Monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave are currently held from 9-11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday each week as conditions allow.
5. Can you host additional monitored sessions? Especially at night?
The scheduling of monitored sessions is based largely on staffing. The department requires two trained wave techs be on site at all times when the Phase 2 adjustable wave is in operation. This is for the safety of the users, as the feature is very dynamic and the user experience changes on any given day based on river flows, irrigation demands and more. Boise Parks and Recreation has two wave techs trained in swift water rescue on staff, and therefore both of these employees must be on site anytime there is a monitored session at Phase 2. A monitored session at Phase 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. requires staff onsite from 7 a.m. to noon. The current schedule takes into account their overall park duties and ability to perform necessary wave adjustments within a manageable 40-hour work week (or 40+ hour work week as is the case during the busy summer months). Sessions are hosted on Saturdays and Sundays to try and meet the needs of users with a traditional Monday-Friday work week.
Sessions are currently held in the morning before 11 a.m. because this is the time that river flows are least likely to turn dangerous due to changing river conditions and irrigation demands upstream from the Boise Whitewater Park. It can take up to four hours for changes in river flows upstream to impact conditions at the park, and hosting sessions later in the day when unpredictable fluctuations could create an unsafe environment is not ideal. Phase 2 conditions are directly connected to Phase 1, irrigation demand, and river flows, which must always be taken into account.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Phase 2 adjustable wave is not complete and a redesign is scheduled to take place during the winter (2022/2023). Modifications will be made with the goal of creating a safer experience that does not require monitored sessions – similar to how the park operates at Phase 1.
6. Why can’t we wear leashes when the Phase 2 adjustable wave feature is operational?
Safety at the Boise Whitewater Park is always our top priority. Due to several catch hazards around the Phase 2 adjustable wave, leashes should not be used for your own safety. Any type of rope, string, or tethering device should not be used in the river. At this wave, there are undercut rocks that will anchor a person to the bottom of the river when caught, forcing them underwater, which is a dangerous scenario.
7. What modifications are planned at Phase 2?
Engineers with McMillen Jacobs are working on design modifications to make the Phase 2 adjustable wave safer. This re-design, which is still being discussed, is scheduled to be implemented over the winter (2022/2023) when crews can work in the river. The Boise Parks and Recreation Department’s goal is to create a safer experience for all users, so our team no longer has to host monitored sessions at the Phase 2 adjustable wave, which is currently an expert only wave feature due to its intensity. As details are determined and design modifications are finalized, the department will communicate with users about the changes to Phase 2 and what kind of experience they can expect following the 2022 season.
8. Why is wave shaper 3 (part of Phase 1 of the park) inoperable?
Wave shaper 3 has not operated like it did in the past since multiple flood stage years have added a 6+ ft cobble rock pile in the eddy and the rest of the riverbed on the Boise side of the river. Also, the flow range for it to work is limited to 1200-2000 CFS at the Glenwood gauge. Any flow below 1200 CFS will not meet irrigation demand as the flow is too far away from the Thurman Mill canal head gate.
9. What can be done to improve the first wave feature (at Phase 1)?
This is being discussed engineers of the park on how to slow the water down behind the wave, potentially fix the riverbed and return retention to the feature. It is important for users to understand that irrigation demands impact the wave our techs can create at different flows. This is a legal obligation that must be met and can impact the activation or deactivation of the wave feature.
10. Who can I contact if I have questions about the Boise Whitewater Park or current features?
You can email the Boise Parks and Recreation Department with questions or concerns at any time. Our staff will work to address your message and respond as staffing allows.