The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, is increasing outflows from Albeni Falls Dam and lowering Lake Pend Oreille with an elevation target of 2,060 feet above mean sea level by Sept. 30.
Outflows from Albeni Falls were increased from 15,000 cubic feet per second to 17 kcfs Monday morning. The current elevation of Lake Pend Oreille is 2,061.5 feet.
The lake is typically drafted from full to one to two feet from full each September and then down to the winter operating level by mid-November. Inflows are typically at their lowest levels in September and early October, but fall rains and other considerations may require some outflow adjustments to reach target elevations.
A recommendation for Lake Pend Oreille’s minimum winter lake level for the next two years was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and Idaho Department of Fish and Game to benefit reproduction of the lake’s kokanee population.
Kokanee, which are small, lake-resident sockeye salmon, are not native to the lake, but their population has been in decline, and they serve as a food source for Lake Pend Oreille’s threatened native bull trout.
The Corps takes into consideration the interagency recommendation as to Lake Pend Orielle’s winter lake level when making operational decisions at Albeni Falls Dam.
IDFG and the USFWS plan to submit a formal request to the Corps through the interagency technical management team at a September 28 meeting.
They are expected to recommend that the Corps set the minimum winter lake level for this winter at 2,051 feet and for the winter of 2012-2013 at 2,055 feet. The Corps operates Albeni Falls Dam as a multiple-purpose project, providing flood risk management, power generation, navigation and recreation.
Information about Albeni Falls Dam and Lake Pend Oreille is available at: http://bit.ly/n0a0wx