Fall drawdowns planned for Pend Oreille, Priest Lake

By Reader Staff

Resource managers will begin the fall drawdown of Lake Pend Oreille on Tuesday, Sept. 19, in keeping with the typical schedule of holding the lake at its normal pool of 2,062.5 feet until the third Sunday in September or Sept. 18 — whichever is later.

According to the Lakes Commission, “Reasonable efforts will be made to be above 2,061 feet through the fourth Sunday or Sept. 25. At that point, there will then be a gradual draft until Nov. 15, when the lake needs to be at winter pool for kokanee. Please keep in mind that during drawdown, elevations on the Pend Oreille River, especially as you get closer to the dam, can be feet lower than the lake elevation measured in Hope.” 

Kokanee spawning in Trestle Creek.
Photo by Brad Smith.

Reaching the winter pool elevation by Nov. 15 is necessary so shoreline kokanee have the necessary depth to spawn. Though not required, winter pool of 2,051 feet has been the norm for many years. That equates to the full 11.5 feet of stored water and is lowered to this maximum level for flexible winter pool operations by the Bonneville Power Administration, which generates power in the winter by raising the lake and then releasing that water again.  

For questions regarding outlet dam operations, contact Leon Basdekas at [email protected].

Elsewhere in the panhandle, the Idaho Department of Water Resources plans to begin the fall drawdown of Priest Lake on Sunday, Oct. 1, which is about a week early, in order to accommodate planned construction on the dam scheduled to resume on Nov. 1.  

The Lakes Commission advises those who need to winterize waterfront infrastructure to be aware of the early drawdown and plan accordingly. 

Drawdown info, including daily release rates, should be announced on the IDWR website in the coming week: idwr.idaho.gov/streams-dams-floods/lake-management.

For questions regarding outlet dam operations, contact Michelle Richman with IDWR at 208-762-2800 or [email protected].

Meanwhile, the Lakes Commission will be meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 1-4 p.m. at the West Bonner Library in Priest River (118 Main St., Priest River), where attendees will hear from U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s office on the Columbia River Treaty, get an overview of Albeni Falls Dam operations, an update on the Priest River fishery, rural wastewater info from the Panhandle Health District, a presentation by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on current Pack River Delta restoration work and more.

Lakes Commission meetings are open to the public. For those who wish to participate via Zoom, register at bit.ly/3sQjYV6.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.