Jan 23 , 2013
Avista Utilities will start to draw down the water level at Lake Spokane
(Long Lake Reservoir) today. Operators expect to lower the reservoir up to one foot per day for a two to three-week period, until it reaches its winter elevation of 13 to 14 feet below maximum summer elevation of 1,536 feet.
Under the right weather conditions, which include sustained periods of single-digit temperatures and little or no snow on the exposed lakebed, the drawdown is expected to help control Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasive aquatic weeds found in Lake Spokane. The drawdown also allows shoreline homeowners the opportunity to complete state and locally permitted repair and construction projects along the lake shoreline.
Property owners and lake-users are reminded to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate shifting ice and low-water conditions. Floating and removable docks are less susceptible to damage from shifting or changing ice levels.
The lower winter elevation will be maintained as long as river flows allow. However, during the drawdown period water levels are subject to change due to a variety of factors, such as weather (rain on snow events in the upper drainages) or maintenance at the Long Lake Dam. Lake users should always be alert to signs of such changes and exercise the highest level of personal caution and safety.
Avista also has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated changes on Lake Spokane, the Spokane River and Coeur d’Alene Lake. In Washington, call (509) 495-8043; in Idaho, call (208) 769-1357.
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check current river and lake levels
on our website.
Nov 28 , 2012
This hydroelectric dam on the Clark Fork River is still a youngster at 60 years old
Whenever you flip a light switch, plug in an appliance, or turn on your furnace, you expect and receive energy on demand. Since the completion of our very first hydroelectric project in 1890, Avista’s dams have generated dependable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible power for our customers.
We’ve been celebrating the 60th anniversary of one of our youngest dams, Cabinet Gorge, throughout the year. Recently we had a banner produced that will hang in the control center at the dam. In November, Avista received special recognition from Idaho Lt. Governor Brad Little. The Lieutenant Governor presented a proclamation honoring
the contribution of Cabinet Gorge to the region and the state of Idaho.
This year also marks the 14th year of successful, collaborative implementation of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement for managing and protecting the natural resources associated with our Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project. The agreement, signed in 1999 after several years of negotiation, resulted in a 45-year operating license from FERC to operate Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.
With growing development of renewable energy like wind and solar, which depend on variable fuel sources, our dams are even more important as a dependable source of energy. Water can be stored and hydropower plants can be fired up quickly to meet energy need when the wind isn’t blowing.
Nov 02 , 2012
Q’emiln Park boat launch to close Nov. 5
A timber intake gate is removed from the Post Falls Dam in
August 2012. We’re replacing the lifting hoists and old timber
intake gates at the dam with modern lifting hoists and new
You may remember early this summer we announced a project to replace the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates at our Post Falls Dam on the Spokane River with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates. The project began in July and crews will continue to work on it into the winter until it’s completed. The dam needs ongoing maintenance and updates to keep it running safely and efficiently. The work is expected to update a system that is more than 100 years old in places, enhancing safety and increasing reliability and efficiency at the dam.
Currently we’re completing work on the first of the dam’s six intake gates. This week we temporarily opened spill gates at the dam to test the operation of the first new gate and put the generating unit below it back into service.
Seasonal closure of Q’emiln Park boat launch Nov. 5
The Q’emiln Park boat launch will be closed for the season beginning Monday, Nov. 5. The ramp is typically closed each year in mid-November due to weather conditions and dropping water levels.
The boat launch must remain closed for safety reasons whenever water is spilled through gates at the Post Falls Dam, which can be the case for much of the fall through spring. Generally, the ramp re-opens in the late spring or early summer, depending on the amount of inflows into Coeur d’Alene Lake.
As a result of Avista’s annual drawdown of Coeur d’Alene Lake, Spokane River levels above the dam will be approximately two and a half feet below the summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet on Nov. 5. Water levels may drop by as much as five additional feet by the end of January. These water levels are subject to change due to weather conditions.
Stay safe on the water
We’d like to remind you to always exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors.
The best way to get the most current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River is to call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line.
In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.
The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check current river and lake levels on our website
Sep 12 , 2012
Visitors to the area near Monroe Street Dam will see a crane relocating rock, gravel and sediment that
has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane.
Periodic maintenance of the dam helps ensure safe and efficient hydropower
This week, Avista has begun removing and relocating rock, gravel and sediment that has accumulated at Monroe Street Dam in downtown Spokane, in accordance with state permits.
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street
Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver
to go down to the base of the dam to remove
accumulated material that the crane can’t get.
Click on the video above to see underwater
footage of an Associated Underwater Services
(AUS) diver removing material from the intake
gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
High and extended river flows earlier this spring caused large amounts of rocks, gravel and other materials to accumulate at the dam. When rocks and other materials pile up in front of the dam, they block the intake structure, which lowers our generating capacity. This periodic maintenance of the dam prevents damage to the intake structure and allows us to maintain power production.
Over the next two to three weeks, a crane located near the southern part of the dam will collect the accumulated materials from the forebay, the area immediately upstream of the dam, and then place them back into the river below the dam.
“Public safety and protecting the surrounding environment are Avista’s top priorities as we do this work,” said Speed Fitzhugh, Spokane River license manager for Avista. “Redistributing the materials back into the river will allow them to continue to serve as a potential gravel source for spawning habitat in the lower Spokane River.”
Visitors should keep clear of the crane, which will be fenced in for safety reasons. For your safety, please stay out of the river in this area and keep clear of designated work areas.
About Monroe Street Dam
Avista's first hydroelectric development, Monroe Street Dam has been producing power since 1890 – longer than any other hydroelectric development currently in operation in the state of Washington.
Avista, then Washington Water Power, constructed the dam at a natural waterfall at Spokane's Lower Falls. The dam was rebuilt in 1974, and a new underground powerhouse was built in 1992. Since Monroe Street Dam is a low head concrete gravity dam designed and built to provide aesthetically pleasing flows, it doesn’t have spill gates that allow for rocks and other natural materials to pass through. Since the reconstruction in the 1970s, Avista has periodically removed and relocated natural materials about every two years to ensure the plant is generating power safely and efficiently.
After a crane operator dredges the Monroe Street Dam forebay, we contract with a professional diver to go down to the base of the dam to remove accumulated material that the crane can’t get.
Click on the video above to see underwater footage of an Associated Underwater Services (AUS) diver removing material from the intake gate. The footage is courtesy of AUS.
Aug 31 , 2012
Avista’s aesthetic spills project benefits begin to unfold as water levels decrease
These two photos of Spokane River’s north channel
in Riverfront Park illustrate the difference Avista’s
aesthetic spills project makes. The one on the top
was taken before the project began, with river flows
at 500 cubic feet per second (CFS). The one on the
bottom was taken this month, with river flows at 300
What a difference an aesthetic flows project makes.
If you compare the river during this time of year to
years past, you will notice the falls are flowing with
water. These photos were taken from Post Street
Bridge facing east towards Canada Island in River
-front Park. The top photo was taken before the
project began, with river flows at 500 cubic feet per
second (CFS). The photo at the bottom was taken
this month, with river flows at 300 CFS. Even though
there is less water flow, restoring the riverbed to
more of a natural state provides many aesthetic
and environmental benefits.
If you live in or visit Spokane in the final weeks of summer, you might take the opportunity to go look at the north and south channels of the Spokane River flows
in Riverfront Park. If you compare the river during this time of year to years past, you will notice the falls are flowing with water.
Each summer, usually in July or August, river flows decrease substantially. In the past, this left the two channels dry with just a trickle of water flowing through the south channel.
In the summer of 2010, as part of the aesthetic spills requirement in our federal license to operate Upper Falls Dam, Avista and several stakeholder groups took part in a assessing test flows to determine whether permanent channel modifications could enhance the view of the river during periods of low river flow. These groups, including the City of Spokane
, Friends of the Falls
, Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club
, the Friends of the Centennial Trail
and The Sierra Club
were trying to learn whether the same or better, aesthetic effects could be achieved with 300 cubic feet per second (CFS) flowing through the two channels, than 500 CFS would without modifications.
During the aesthetic spill test, biologists also assessed the impact of potential channel modifications to fish and fish habitat in the river through the park and downstream.
The test was successful, and last year, Avista and its contractors, Land Expressions LLC
, gave the south and north channels a makeover to help restore the Spokane River’s beauty to a more natural state, the way it once was before early developers in Spokane cut into the bedrock to collect water during dry times. The enhancements, using “weirs"
that look like the natural bedrock in the river, spread water more evenly throughout the Upper Falls’ two channels that run north and south of Canada Island. Combined, they produce an aesthetically pleasing flow of water that viewers can enjoy throughout the year.
“Avista and our contractors took a new and creative approach to restoring the falls to a more natural state,” said Spokane River License Manager Speed Fitzhugh. “We matched the color, shape and texture of the weirs to that of the bedrock to produce seamless, natural looking river flows. As far as we’ve been able to determine, it’s the first project of its kind in North America.”
You may remember this year we had a longer than normal run-off season, with high, fast river flows in the Spokane and other area rivers. Thanks to the collaborative effort of Avista, our stakeholders and contractors, visitors to downtown Spokane no longer have to look at a dry riverbed during the warm summer days.
Protecting natural resources and operating our dams responsibly helps us continue to generate clean, reliable and cost-effective hydroelectric power for our customers. Last year’s aesthetic spills project on the Spokane River has improved the scenery in downtown Spokane and recreated habitat for fish, birds, and other local wildlife, something that we can all be proud of for generations to come.
If you pig out in the park this weekend, check out the falls
If you happen to visit Riverfront Park for Pig Out in the Park or for any other event or reason, you can check out the falls yourself. KXLY’s Jeff Humphrey covered the aesthetic spills project in this week’s news and interviewed Avista’s Spokane River License Manager, Speed Fitzhugh.
Jul 25 , 2012
Montana Fish and Game Biologist Joe Huston and WWP biologist Tim Vaughn (right) prepare brown trout eggs for
planting in 1966, as part of ongoing efforts to improve local sport fishing.
At Avista we talk a lot about our legacy and commitment to environmental stewardship. Tim Vaughan, Washington Water Power (WWP) retiree who passed away earlier this month at the age of 95, was instrumental in helping to build that legacy at Avista. He also left a legacy of his own - the importance of relationships and a passion for nature and the outdoors.
Vaughan was a pioneer of natural resource protection, and has been recognized as the one of the first biologists in the country hired by a power company to address the impact of dams on habitat and fish and wildlife. After first working as a consultant to WWP during the construction of Cabinet Gorge Dam in the early 1950s, Vaughan used his relationship-building skills to successfully show WWP leadership the need to hire a biologist on a permanent basis. Thus began Vaughan’s 25-year career at Avista – first as a founding member of the Environmental Affairs department, and later as manager of the department.
Through partnerships with agencies such as Idaho Fish and Game, Vaughan worked to creatively and jointly reach resource-preservation goals. Bob Anderson, former director of Avista’s Environmental Affairs department and a long-time friend of Vaughan said, “Tim lived the example of respecting others and building collaborative relationships. That’s just how he was, and it set the stage for how we’ve carried out big efforts like hydro relicensing.”
Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of generating power at Cabinet Gorge, Avista employees in the Environmental Affairs department work toward the same goals Vaughan envisioned long ago. Further, environmental stewardship is deeply embedded in our company culture.
Bruce Howard, director of Environmental Affairs, expects this type of respect for our environment to continue far into the future. “Tim’s legacy is now ours to carry on,” said Howard. And Avista employees will do just that.
Jul 23 , 2012
A peek at Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan for the Spokane River Project
36 years ago, our nation’s bird and symbol of freedom was placed on the endangered species list. Today, the birds are rebounding again across the country and locally.
Avista’s Terrestrial Resource Specialist, David Armes, is in charge of implementing Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan – something we are required to do as part of our federal license to operate our Spokane River Project’s five hydroelectric facilities.
Our contribution to the protection of the Bald Eagle includes annual surveys and monitoring of Bald Eagle nests located near the Spokane River Project area. This includes Coeur d’Alene Lake and its three tributaries; the Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and St. Maries Rivers as well as the Spokane River and Lake Spokane.
While conducting surveys we look to see if the nests are occupied, evaluate the success of the nests and observe the fledging period, a time when newborn Eagles are preparing to leave the nest.
The information we gather is shared with natural resource agencies, such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. The information helps shape future efforts for protecting Bald Eagles in the area.
Avista is proud to support the conservation effort of our nation’s bird and will continue our legacy of environmental stewardship and reliability.
Jul 14 , 2012
Water levels allow spill gates at Post Falls Dam to be closed
Avista is advising Spokane River users that river recreation is now permitted in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the boater safety cables located just upstream of the Post Falls Dam. River flows have dropped sufficiently to allow all of the spill gates at the hydroelectric facility to be closed.
The City of Post Falls boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public today. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday, and on average about June 22.
This year, several factors delayed the closure of the spill gates at Post Falls Dam. The spring runoff season extended well into the month of July, due to a larger than average snowpack and rainfall in June that amounted to more than twice the normal amounts.
Avista’s project to replace the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates at its Post Falls Dam with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates delayed the spill gate closure an additional week. During the work, at least two generator units must be taken out of service, which reduces the amount of water that can pass through the power house at any one time. This means the total river flow had to be lower than normal before the spill gates could be completely closed and the Q’emiln Park boat launch could be opened.
Visitors to Falls Park will see equipment and temporary work structures in and around the river, including cranes, barges, trucks and contractors throughout the project, which is expected to be completed by November. Some areas of the park may be temporarily fenced off, and detours or alternate viewpoints may be designated for park visitors. The public is requested to obey posted signs, stay out of the area of the river below the dam and keep clear of designated work areas.
Avista expects summer operation at the dam to continue through Labor Day, as long as weather conditions allow. River users are cautioned that weather conditions and dam operations can cause rapid changes in water levels. Please exercise caution when using the waterways.
For current information on anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River, call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line. In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043. The recorded information is provided to advise shoreline property owners, commercial and recreational users of changes in lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use. You can also check weather and water flow information on the Avista Utilities website.
Jul 11 , 2012
One of the original operators of Cabinet
Gorge Dam, 90-year old Clyde Meredith,
who retired in 1984, rode alongside
Cabinet's current Chief Operator.
Avista employees and the community of Clark Fork celebrated our Independence Day and commemorated Cabinet Gorge 60th anniversary at the annual Clark Fork, Idaho - Fourth of July celebration last week.
Several of Avista’s hydro operations and environmental resources employees and their families, a line truck, electric safety demonstration trailer and Bull Trout education trailer took part in the community’s annual Fourth of July parade.
One of the original operators of Cabinet Gorge, 90-year old Clyde Meredith, who retired in 1984, was also in the parade. He rode alongside Cabinet Gorge’s current Chief Operator, Don Wells in Clark Fork License Manager Tim Swant’s 1965 Pontiac LeMans.
Avista helped support the community celebrations and fireworks, and donated a trailer-mounted BBQ to the Clark Fork Booster Club so they have a means of fundraising for many years to come.
We’re proud to be a part of the community of Clark Fork for the past 60 years. Happy Birthday to America, and to Cabinet Gorge.
Jul 06 , 2012
We’re replacing the lifting hoists and old timber intake gates with modern lifting hoists and new steel gates. The work is expected to update a system that is more than 100 years old in places, enhancing safety and increasing reliability and efficiency at the dam. We were also planning to refurbish the spill gates in the south channel of the river, but that project has been postponed until 2013.
The intake gate replacement project is scheduled for July-November 2012 while river flows are at summer levels. During the project, we’ll do our best to minimize the disruption to recreation and power generation as much as possible, but the work is important so we can continue to safely generate clean, reliable hydropower. The project will affect park users, boaters and dam operations.
Q’emiln Park Boat Launch: During the work, at least two generator units must be taken out of service, which reduces the amount of water that can pass through the powerhouse at any one time. This means the total river flow will need to be lower than normal before the spill gates can be closed and the Q’emiln Park boat launch can be opened. Depending on weather, this will likely take place sometime in mid-July.
Falls Park: Falls Park visitors will see equipment and temporary work structures in and around the river, including cranes, barges, trucks and contractors throughout the project duration. Some areas of the park may be temporarily fenced off, and detours or alternate viewpoints may be designated for park visitors. For your safety, please obey posted signs, stay out of the area of the river below the dam and keep clear of designated work areas.
Post Falls Dam Informational Meeting July 10
Avista will host an informational meeting to discuss the project and answer questions on July 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Post Falls Police Department in Post Falls at 1717 E. Polston Ave. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, please call Mac Mikkelson at 509-495-8759. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the project reaches completion.