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.
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′
Bradbury Beach 1251′
Kettle Falls 1234′
Marcus Island 1281′
North Gorge 1280′
Snag Cove 1277′
French Rocks 1265′
Napoleon Bridge 1280′
China Bend 1277′
With Lake Roosevelt about 4 feet from being full, the Bureau of Reclamation expects the lake to rise starting July 3 by up to a half foot each day through the weekend.
Filling the lake lifts accumulated debris off the shores and into the water where it can be dangerous to boaters.
The Bureau of Reclamation is advising people camping along the Lake Roosevelt shoreline over the July 4 weekend to be aware of potential dangers that could exist due to rapidly rising lake levels.
“When camping along the shoreline, it is recommended that tents and other belongings be kept well away from the water’s edge,” said Public Affairs Officer Lynne Brougher. “Although the lake is a popular vacation spot, it is also a working reservoir that supplies water for hydroelectric facilities at Grand Coulee Dam which can result in rapid fluctuations.”
Brougher says campsites that are too close to the water’s edge could potentially become flooded and boats that are not properly anchored or secured could drift out into the lake and become a safety hazard.
Reclamation must adhere to the court-ordered 2008/2010 FCRPS Biological Opinion requiring the lake to be at the full pool elevation of 1,290 feet above sea level between late June and early July. It was at 1,286 feet above sea level Tuesday evening.
There’s so much happening in the Grand Coulee Dam Area this Memorial Day weekend, it’s hard to know where to start.
Isle of Flags
But rightfully, that has to be an annual service called the Isle of Flags. It’s a tribute to local veterans who’ve passed on, but anybody from anywhere would find this simple, 40-minute ceremony overlooking Lake Roosevelt to be inspiring. More than 500 U.S. flags will fly in tribute at Spring Canyon Cemetery, along with those about to be dedicated.
The Isle of Flags ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Monday.
Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding and Wild Horse Race
Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at the site of the best rodeo in the state, cheers will echo off the the coulee wall as cowboys take on the toughest 8 seconds in all of sports, riding bulls who know how to throw them like rag dolls. This event will also feature a wild horse race in which teams of three try to harness, saddle and ride through barrels horse so spirited they refuse to be “broke” in the old cowboy sense of the word. Admission is $10, or $8 for students. Kids under 10 get in free. And if you don’t have your kids with you, feel free to watch from the Ridge Riders’ whiskey and beer garden.
Largest laser show in North America debuts Saturday at 10 p.m.
On Saturday night at 10 p.m., the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will debut its new laser light show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam. At more than a mile wide and as high as the Washington Monument, it’s the largest laser light show in North America. And it’s free.
This new show features all-new content on the history of the Columbia River, its people, the dam and its effects on the region and nation. The production and equipment to show it cost $1.6 million and replaces the original show that ran for 25 years.
I’ve seen some preview clips on the Internet, but I’m not going to post them here. Those do the show a disservice, because you cannot get the same effect reducing a mile-wide spectacle to a tiny screen. Just come and see it. The best place to watch it is at the Visitor Center at the dam or in the park just below the VC. But below is photo of people watching the show that ran for 25 years.