Lake level held down for maintenance on dam

The boat launch at Crescent Bay on Lake Roosevelt is currently high and dry, but Spring Canyon and up to 11 of 22 launches in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area still reach the water. Spring Canyon, the lowest reaching launch, goes down to elevation 1,222.
The boat launch at Crescent Bay on Lake Roosevelt is currently high and dry, but Spring Canyon and up to 11 of 22 launches in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area still reach the water. Spring Canyon, the lowest reaching launch, goes down to elevation 1,222.

Lake Roosevelt is being held at a level about 47 feet below the full mark while maintnenace is completed on the drum gates that hold the water back when the lake is full.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, reports the lake will likely remain below 1,255 feet above sea level until May 10.

The water forecast for the Columbia River drainage above Grand Coulee Dam, from April to August this year, is estimated to 82.5 percent of normal, so the maximum level allowed for flood control right now would actually be 1,283.3 feet, less than 7 feet below spilling over.

But such flood control elevations are the maximum elevations allowed to ensure enough room in the lake for the spring runoff. Actual elevations may be lower “based on power demand, unforeseen power emergencies, changes in weather events, maintenance on the dam, etc,” the bureau explains on its website.

Army Corps to lower water level at Rufus Woods April 11-12

Fishing on Lake Rufus Woods
Anglers ply the waters of Lake Rufus Woods, behind Chief Joseph Dam in this 2010 photo

 

SEATTLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the reservoir water level upstream of Chief Joseph Dam by 1.5-2.5 feet below normal pool this weekend, but the Seaton’s Grove boat launch will remain open.

Water managers expect that work scheduled for April 11-12, to prepare for a bank stabilization project, will lower Lake Rufus Woods from its normal low-pool level of 950 feet above sea level to a lower elevation between 947.5-948.5 feet.

The project will eventually address erosion problems by placing bank-stabilizing rock armor and native plantings along 700 feet of shoreline on the Columbia River’s northeastern bank downstream of Seaton’s Grove boat ramp.

To prepare the site for construction, the waterline is being lowered this weekend for an inspection of conditions, and to remove vegetation and other obstructions that could impact bank protection integrity.

Water levels are expected to return to normal April 13.

A Corps spokesman said he didn’t know when the actual construction work would take place or how long it would take.

When complete, the structure will provide protection against reservoir erosive forces, the Corps stated in a press release Friday.

The Corps said that throughout the planning process it coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Reclamation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington Department of Ecology, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

What a view!

A lucky dog sniffs a great view. Ed Grenier (@roscoejefferson) photo
A lucky dog sniffs a great view. Ed Grenier (@roscoejefferson) photo

Here’s another fine use of Instagram: highlighting the great hikes the Grand Coulee Dam area offers. This shot is of a very happy dog on top of Steamboat Rock, out in the midst of Banks Lake at the Steamboat Rock State Park. It’s a hunk of earth that didn’t wash away in the series of catastrophic floods that carved the Grand Coulee at the end the last ice age.

So standing atop the rock, about 800 feet above the floor of the Grand Coulee, you can imagine the torrents that flowed through the area thousands of years ago, leaving this dramatic landscape.

The dog may not get that, but he certainly enjoys it anyway.

You might fish for salmon here someday, not just silvers

Between a renewed push for re-introducing salmon to the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam and a newly developing technology, a consortium of tribes is hopeful that somehow, there will be a way to bring salmon back.

The icon of the Pacific Northwest has been gone from the upper reaches of the Columbia since the building of Grand Coulee Dam. Now they’re actually stopped at Chief Joseph Dam, more than 50 miles downriver.

But a treaty may open for negotiations between the United States and Canada that dictates exchanges of water and electricity and infrastructure provided. And the Upper Columbia United Tribes is hopeful, along with the Colville Confederated Tribes, that a way for cheap transport may have been discovered by company touting its “salmon canon.” Picture a kinder, gentler form of the same kind of suction tube that takes your deposit at a drive-up bank.

Whooshh Innovations, of Bellevue, Washington, has more information about adapting their fruit moving technology, to help solve the problem of letting fish move upstream. Below is a video that demonstrates the innovation. The company has lots more on its website, which was even recently featured in a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Although a way may be found to move salmon upstream over huge dams, that may actually be the easier part of the problem to solve. After hatching, the young salmon have to get back to the ocean. They only swim upstream, so they have to be pushed by a considerable current, which is not present in Lake Roosevelt above Grand Coulee Dam.

But the salmon canon idea is still fun to watch:

 

Image of a chinook salmon by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used under Creative Commons license.

Lake Roosevelt level is dropping

The flood control level needed for Lake Roosevelt is set in the blue triangles for 2015, compared to the 2014 history depicted by the pink dotted line. -- USBR graph
The flood control level needed for Lake Roosevelt is set in the blue triangles for 2015, compared to the 2014 history depicted by the pink dotted line. — USBR graph

The level of Lake Roosevelt has already dropped to to a level not predicted until March, in a forecast put out in mid-January, 2015.

On Friday, Jan. 30, the lake surface was at about 1,276 feet above sea level, which will put out of reach several boat launches on the lake, but certainly not all. (See the list below).
The deepest access is offered at the Spring Canyon launch near Grand Coulee.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, which controls the lake, had published an estimate of the lake level drop this year showing a flood control schedule that would have still held the level at full pool until the end of February and eventually dropping to about 1,243 in April, not as far down as in 2014. But factors including weather and power demand can be hard to predict.

MINIMUM BOAT LAUNCH ELEVATIONS
Crescent Bay 1265′
Spring Canyon 1222′
Keller Ferry 1229′
Hansen Harbor 1253′
Jones Bay 1266′
Lincoln Mill 1245′
Hawk Creek 1281′
Seven Bays 1227′
Fort Spokane 1247′
Porcupine Bay 1243′
Hunters Camp 1230′
Gifford 1249′
Daisy 1265′
Bradbury Beach 1251′
Kettle Falls 1234′
Marcus Island 1281′
Evans 1280′
North Gorge 1280′
Snag Cove 1277′
French Rocks 1265′
Napoleon Bridge 1280′
China Bend 1277′

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