Recreationists can expect continued low levels at Lake Koocanusa as experts try to mitigate flooding south of the border.
The US Army Corps of Engineers are discussing plans for the body of water that is split by the Canaidan – American border and formed by the Libby Dam.
Joel Fenolio is the Upper Columbia Senior Water Manager for the Corps of Engineers.
He says they’ve heard a lot of concerns about lake levels at Koocanusa but they’ve lowered the reservoir to try to prevent high water downstream.
Right now, they are trying to maintain enough water coming out of Libby Dam so they have enough space for the June influx, when they see the largest volume of water come into the lake.
Fenolio explains they’re expecting the lake to reach peak elevations, 2459 feet is full pool, in late-July or early August.
The lake is currently at 2378 feet.
The Upper Columbia Senior Water Manager says projections indicate the reservoir will be about 10 feet above full pool but will be above 2450 for most of August.
Officials are closely watching levels as the East Kootenay snowpack still sat at 137 per cent as of May 1st.
The US Army Corps of Engineers says they are coordinating efforts with BC Hydro on a daily basis.
Fenolio, who has been managing Libby Dam for the past eight years, says this year they expect to see the unexpected in terms of streamflows.
He says over recent years they are seing extreme conditions more often.He points to last year, which he calls unique, because they had a good snowpack going into March but it all ran off six week before predicated.
Fenolio says this year reminds him of a combination of 2012 and 2011.
He says current conditions mirror snowpack levels of 2012 but at the same time it’s hanging on like 2011 because it was so cold earlier this year and into the beginning of Spring.
Fenolio suggests if the snowpack continues to linger it will be a longer period of peak flows, but if conditions closer reflect 2012 it will be harder to manage.– Josh Hoffman
– US Army Corps of Engineers ‘ Joel Fenolio