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Wed., Feb. 22, 2017, 12:04 p.m.

Lake Pend Oreille water level to rise behind Albeni Falls Dam

The view of Lake Pend Oreille from the summit of Scotchman Peak on Nov. 13, 2013. (Jim Mellen)
The view of Lake Pend Oreille from the summit of Scotchman Peak on Nov. 13, 2013. (Jim Mellen)

DAMS -- The level of Lake Pend Oreille will increase 1.5-2.5 feet by the end of February as the outflow from Albeni Falls Dam is decreased to assist with downstream maintenance work, water managers announced today.

At the request of Bonneville Power Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to begin storing water in Lake Pend Oreille to ease the Bureau of Reclamation's drum gate maintenance at Grand Coulee Dam.

Corps water managers had planned to keep the lake at the low end of its winter water level range because of Riley Creek bank stabilization work, said Scott Lawrence, Corps spokesman in Seattle.  "Recent warm conditions have thawed the access road however, and road-use restrictions are preventing additional work being completed this season," he said.

During Riley Creek bank stabilization work, the maximum elevation was 2,052 feet as measured at the Hope gauge.  While the operating range for the Corps' Flexible Winter Power Operations is from 2,051-2,056 feet, water managers are not targeting a specific elevation, Lawrence said.  Any water stored in the lake may be used for power generation later in the season.

Current outflow from Albeni Falls is 19,500 cfs.  That rate will decrease over the week to accommodate BPA's request.  The Corps expects the lake to rise 1.5 to 2.5 feet above current elevation by the end of February.   

The Corps operates Albeni Falls Dam as a multiple-purpose project, providing flood risk management, power generation, fish and wildlife conservation, navigation and recreation.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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