Lake level timeline announced

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Lake Pend Oreille will remain at summer pool through Sept. 18, after which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will start a gradual drawdown until reaching winter lake elevation in mid-November.

Sand Creek at high water. Photo by Ben Olson.

The Corps, which manages Albeni Falls Dam, hosted its fall public meeting Sept. 11 in Priest River. There, Hydraulic Engineer Alison Pieper shared upcoming dam operations and the local water levels that will follow. 

Because the Corps manages the dam at Albeni Falls, it is responsible for raising and lowering the water level within the top 11.5 feet of Lake Pend Oreille. Given that, lake recreators can look forward to a fairly extended season, as the lake will stay at summer pool — between 2,062 and 2,062.5 feet deep at the Corps’ Hope gauge — for another week, and above 2,061 through Sept. 28 in order to accomodate the annual Pend Oreille Regatta on Priest River. 

Through October and the first half of November, the lake will slowly drop to about winter elevation: 2,051 to 2,051.5 feet. The Corps said that winter target elevation provides greater flexibility for flood management in the winter and spring, and for power operations.

The lake level will hold at between 2,051 and 2,051.5 feet until kokanee are down spawning or Dec. 31 — whichever comes earlier. A slight lowering of the lake level may occur January through March to accommodate Idaho Fish and Game habitat restoration.

After Feb. 15, Flexible Winter Power Operations — the practice of storing water in order to better meet power needs at the request of the Bonneville Power Administration — are permitted.

Those with questions can reach the Corps water management team at [email protected] or call 206-764-6702.

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