Spill operations at Albeni Falls Dam remain restricted

Seattle District, USACE
Published May 10, 2024

Spill operations remain restricted at Albeni Falls Dam in Oldtown, Idaho, while U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ officials respond to the discovery of base metal flaws and defects identified on a spillway gate undergoing rehabilitation.  The flaws were discovered in April 2024 as part of a major gate rehabilitation contract initiated in June 2023. 

The Albeni Falls spillway gates are original to the dam, constructed in 1955.  Since the gates were fabricated at the same time using the same type of steel, USACE is developing a schedule to evaluate all gates and determine if similar, recently discovered defects exist.  

Current hydrologic modeling indicates maintaining current Lake Pend Oreille elevation until late May might be necessary.  Officials are monitoring real-time weather, streamflow trends and updating modeling predictions daily.  Once lakeshore flood risk passes, USACE will operate to meet normal summer pool elevations as quickly as possible. 

“We need to keep storage space available to guard against the potential for rain or snow events that can lead to sudden spring high inflows,” said Albeni Falls Dam Operating Project Manager Amanda Smith. “The basin is extremely large so there is a lot to consider when monitoring the conditions. These rain events can happen in any year, so we are being cautious during refill operations.”

This weekend's temperatures are forecast to be the season’s warmest. This significant warming should provide more clarity on snowpack runoff and the Corps expects to issue an update on refill operations next week. 

To sustain current lake elevations, USACE may need to remove one gate next week when inflows are predicted to exceed full powerhouse capacity of approximately 30,000 cubic feet per second.  

 “The Corps continues to closely monitor upstream storage projects, streamflow, snowpack and weather forecasts,” said Smith. “We are adjusting our operations in real-time as conditions allow.”  

To receive email notifications for Albeni Falls Dam outflow changes and near-term lake elevation projections, email uppercolumbiawm@usace.army.mil and request to be added. 

Scott Lawrence

Release no. 24-012