SEATTLE – Lake Pend Oreille minimum winter lake level for 2012-2013 will be at 2,055 feet above mean sea level, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, Water Management Section.
The lake is at 2,061.6 feet as of midnight Sept. 20, and the Corps is continuing to draft with a goal of 2,058.5 feet by Oct. 15 and 2,056 feet by Oct. 31. The lake is expected to reach the 2,055 foot level during the first week of November.
The Corps operates Albeni Falls Dam, which regulates the level of Lake Pend Oreille. The minimum winter lake level was determined after an annual interagency lake level meeting held Sept. 17 and a regional Technical Management Team (TMT) meeting for Columbia Basin fisheries Sept. 19.
Inflows are typically at their lowest levels in September and early October, but later fall rains and other considerations may require some outflow adjustments to reach the 2,055 foot lake level. Once reached, the Corps expects to hold the lake between 2,055.0 – 2,055.5 feet through the end of kokanee spawning or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.
Lake Pend Oreille’s winter level is managed in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Kalispel Tribe, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game to benefit reproduction of the lake’s kokanee population, as well as providing flows for threatened chum salmon in the lower Columbia. Kokanee, which are small, lake-resident sockeye salmon, are not native to the lake, but their population is at low levels and they serve as a food source for Lake Pend Oreille’s threatened native bull trout.
The Corps operates Albeni Falls Dam as a multiple-purpose project, providing flood risk management, power generation, fish and wildlife conservation, navigation and recreation.