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Arrow Lakes water levels continue to drop

Arrow Lakes Reservoir is expected to drop further in the next week
Stumps from the time of the creation of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir in 1968 are visible at the McDonald Creek Provincial Park beach. Photo: Betsy Kline

The Arrow Lakes Reservoir has continued to drop as BC Hydro forecasted back in July.

Conditions have culminated after sustained periods of dry weather began in the fall of 2022. Below average snowpack this winter in most of BC Hydro’s basins, lower spring and summer precipitation, and higher energy demand due to atypical weather patterns have also contributed to the situation.

The forecast runoff for 2023 is 76 per cent of normal, the third driest year since 1949.

On Aug. 21, the Arrow Lakes Reservoir was at 427.2 metres (1401.5 feet) measured at the Fauquier gauge. The reservoir drafted by 1.59 metres (5.2 feet) in the past week.

The reservoir is forecast to reach 426.6 metres (1400 feet) by the end of August. This level is above the Arrow Lakes Reservoir water license minimum level of 420 metres (1,378 feet).

BC Hydro notes however, that near and long-term forecasting is inherently uncertain due to the unpredictability of future events and conditions.

The last time the reservoir reached similar levels was in 2015, when Arrow Lakes Reservoir drafted to 428.8 metres (1,407 feet) at the end of August.

The reservoir reached its latest maximum level of 439.06 metres (1440.5 feet) on June 23, when it was just about a metre from full.

The latest minimum elevation of 423.97 metres (1391 feet) was reached on January 9, 2023.

Water levels in the reservoir are frequently affected by Columbia River Treaty obligations. The treaty governs the timing and volume of water that passes through the Mica, Duncan and Hugh Keenleyside dams for flood prevention, hydroelectric power generation and irrigation needs.

“This is not the first time we’ve experienced conditions like these, and we want to assure customers that we have enough power to meet the demand and we are taking proactive steps to manage the lower-than-average inflows,” BC Hydro explained in a statement. “Our priority has – and will always be – delivering clean, safe, and reliable power to our customers.”

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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