Another year and no decision on Galloway Dam

By: 
Steve Lyon
The high flows on the Weiser River and the potential once again for flooding brought to mind the proposed Galloway Dam.
 Standing on the Cove Road bridge on Tuesday morning, the power of the river flowing at 14,000 cubic feet per second was an awesome sight. That’s enough water to spin a couple of turbines.
 The Galloway Project, as it’s known, has been studied, discussed, promoted and dismissed for years.
 Newspapers have written many leading headlines. “Decision on Galloway Dam expected soon...next month...next year.”
 There are proponents of the dam and detractors. The proposed dam would impound 700,000 acre-feet of water and generate 40-60 megawatts of power.
 It would end the threat of flooding in Weiser. It would assure farmers have storage for lean water years. It could be used for fish flows on the Snake and Columbia rivers. It would innundate the Weiser River Trail. It would create a lake where there is now a free-flowing river.
 I called Roger Chase, chairman of the Idaho Water Resources Board on Tuesday, to ask him about the status of the project.
 There is nothing new to report, he said. The project is in a holding pattern. It was mentioned in the Legislature this session, but that’s it.
 The economics of building a dam 13.5 miles upstream from Weiser still don’t pencil out. The price tag has been estimated at $500 million, and it will require investors with deep pockets.
 Natural gas is selling at a discount, Chase said. Building a gas-fired plant to generate electricity, like the one along I-84 near New Plymouth, is far cheaper than building a dam.
 For now, the state keeps the permits active and the dam proposal on the shelf.
 “The Galloway project is still out there. It’s just not going anywhere right now,” Chase said.
 • • •
 File this under your state tax dollars hard at work.
 News outlets reported that state lawmakers plan to buy an office building across the street from the statehouse in Boise for close to $2 million.
 A heckuva deal. A wise investment for the future, they said.  
 Here’s the comical part of the deal. The state owned the same building just two years ago and sold it for $1.48 million. 
 The state endowment fund divested the former bank building in Boise and other commercial properties after lawmakers said the state shouldn’t be competing with private developers.
 Now state lawmakers say they want to buy it back for 33 percent more than they sold it for. The owners of the building will make a tidy $500,000 profit. 
  I’ve heard of flipping properties for profit. I think the state has it backward. But no foul if it’s someone else’s money.
 Steve Lyon is the editor of the Weiser Signal American. Contact him at scoop@signalamerican.com.

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Weiser, ID 83672
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