Nov 02 , 2012
Q’emiln Park boat launch to close Nov. 5
 

Removal of a wooden intake gate at Post Falls Dam
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
steel gates.
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.

 
Published: 11/2/2012  10:13 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 23 , 2012
Video
 
A peek at Avista’s Bald Eagle Management Plan for the Spokane River Project

Post by Brandi Smith

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.
Published: 7/23/2012  2:32 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 14 , 2012
photo of Post Falls
 
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.

In an emergency, if spill gates need to be opened, the boat launch and swim beach at Q’emiln Park may be temporarily closed, as well as the area of the river downstream of Spokane Street Bridge. If this occurs, boaters in the area will be notified, and temporary closure signs will be posted. This specific “ordinance area” is addressed in the Post Falls Boater/Swimmer Ordinances; City of Post Falls Ordinance 875 sec 8.44.010 and Section II-D of Kootenai County Resolution 2006-68.
 
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.
Published: 7/14/2012  12:14 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 28 , 2012

Post Falls Dam

 

Will summer ever get here? That’s seems to be a common question heard around the Spokane area these days and at Avista too. As you make plans for the upcoming weekends and July 4 holiday, we want to keep you up to date on changing conditions in the Spokane River as well as educate you about a project we are working on at the Post Falls Dam.
 
 
We’ve started closing spill gates at our Post Falls Dam now that Coeur d’Alene Lake is back below the maximum summer level of 2,128 feet. However, heavy rainfall throughout the month of June has slowed our process, and we’ve had to make ongoing adjustments to accommodate river flows, which have increased rapidly on a number of occasions, as recently as Tuesday, June 26.

Closing spill gates causes the river level below the dam to decrease. With this in mind, the spill gates need to be closed gradually, so that fish below the dam are not stranded in pools of water. To achieve this we close spill gates at a rate that decreases the downstream river level no more than four inches per hour, which is required by our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license to operate our dams on the Spokane River.

As the river flows stabilize, we continue to close the remaining spill gates. As the spill gates are closed the elevation of the river above the dam increases, which provides additional recreational opportunities on the river. Once the final spill gate is closed, the Q’emiln Park boat launch in Post Falls can be opened for the summer season. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22. We don’t expect to close the final spill gate until after July 4 due to this year’s rainfall and extended high spring runoff season.

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 water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia.

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.
 
Avista’s summer work at Post Falls Dam
The dam needs ongoing maintenance and updates to keep it running safely and efficiently. This summer after the spring runoff season ends, Avista will be undertaking two projects to do that.
 
We’re planning to sandblast, repair and repaint the south channel spill gates, something that needs to be done every 30 to 40 years. We also plan to replace the lifting hoist and old timber intake gates that let water flow through the dam to the generator turbines at Post Falls Dam with new lifting hoists and steel gates.

Normally the generator turbines can pass about 5,400 cubic feet per second (cfs). Any additional water has to flow through the spill gates.

During the work, at least two generator units must be taken offline, which reduces the amount of water the power house can pass at any one time. This means the total river flow will need to be lower than normal before we can close all the spill gates and the Q’emiln Park boat launch can be opened.
 
Depending on weather, this will likely be about the second or third week of July.

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. We'll be sure to keep you updated as the project reaches completion.
Published: 6/28/2012  12:18 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 20 , 2012

Aerial view of Post Falls Dam Spring 2012

 

 
School’s out and the weather is finally beginning to warm, which will have many of you making summer river and lake recreation plans. Before you head out for fun on the water, we would like to provide you with information about current river flows and lake levels, as well as our plans for summer operations at Post Falls Dam.

 
The amount of snow in the mountains continues to be well above normal, because the cool weather has slowed the snow melt. At the beginning of June, Avista began closing spill gates at Post Falls Dam. However, above normal June rainfall has again pushed Lake Coeur d’Alene above its summer elevation. Avista has had to re-open all spill gates and current flows in the Spokane River are more than twice the volume we would normally expect this time of year.

With snowpack still over 200 percent of normal for the Spokane River basin, and a forecast of cooler and wetter than average weather, the runoff is expected to continue well into the summer.
 
Avista will likely be spilling excess water over the spillways at Post Fall Dam until after the Fourth of July holiday this year. Because of the open spill gates, the river upstream of Post Falls Dam will continue to be lower than normal until after the runoff season, and the City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park will not open until after July 4th. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and mid-July. The median date for closing the gates is June 22.

Avista operates our hydroelectric facilities with a focus on several different objectives:
 
  • Meeting customer demand with reliable energy service
  • Operating safely and efficiently
  • Complying with local, federal and state regulations and laws
  • Being good environmental stewards
  • Providing recreation opportunities


Safety on the river
As always, we ask you to exercise caution on the water, as river and lake levels can change at any time depending on weather and other factors. The water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating on or near a lake or river at risk for hypothermia, even in warmer weather. Here is some other important safety information for your consideration:

  • Always wear a lifejacket on the water.
  • Obey all safety and warning signs.
  • Never fish, play or anchor your boat below a dam.
  • Sudden discharges can increase water flows in a hurry.
  • Don’t cross the boater safety cable above a dam. The current could pull you through a spill gate or drag you under water near a powerhouse.
  • Watch overhead clearances like cables and power lines when sailing.

The best way to get the latest 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. 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 changing water conditions.

For more information on lake and river levels, please call Pat Maher at (509) 495-4283.
Published: 6/20/2012  10:28 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 06 , 2012
Use caution as water levels continue to change

Post Falls Dam, North Channel
The North Channel of the Post Falls Dam.
Because of the recent heavy rainfall in the North Idaho mountains, Avista has been actively opening spill gates at our Post Falls Dam. Over the past several days, river flows and lake levels have risen steadily. The St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene rivers, which feed Coeur d’Alene Lake, have been rising for almost a week and continue to do so. Coeur d’Alene Lake reached summer elevation of 2,128 Wednesday, June 6 and continues to rise as flows into the lake exceed the amount that can flow out of the lake into the Spokane River.

Once Avista begins controlling the level of Lake Coeur d'Alene each spring, we are required to open the spill gates at Post Falls to prevent the lake from going above its summer elevation.

There is still above-average snowpack in the high mountains for this time of year, and the National Weather Service is predicting higher than normal precipitation and cooler temperatures for the month of June.

How does it all work?
You may wonder why river levels drop above Post Falls Dam when Avista opens the spill gates. In the summer, when all the spill gates are closed, the river is filled with water and acts more like a lake. Levels  are held at a level very close to that of Coeur d’Alene Lake. But when we open the spill gates (some of which open all the way down to the river bed), the river flows naturally and the elevation of the water drops to river level. This is naturally much lower than it is when the gates are closed and the water is stacked up behind the dam - in fact, when all the gates are open, the elevation of the river above the dam is eight vertical feet lower than the summer level when the gates are closed.

We want 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 water is still cold, which puts those who are recreating in a lake or river at risk for hypothermia.

Call Avista’s 24-hour telephone information line for information regarding anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’ Alene Lake, Lake Spokane, and the Spokane River.

In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357; in Washington, call (509) 495-8043.
Published: 6/6/2012  2:15 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

May 30 , 2012
Cover of Shared Value Report
 
 
Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our customers and employees that they want more information on how we do business in areas like utility operations, environmental stewardship and our community impact. We’re glad you asked!

That information and more is available in our fourth annual report on our performance, “Together We Will Build Shared Value,” now online at avistautilities.com.
 
Our primary mission is to provide the energy you need for your life. The back story is all about what goes into providing that energy and how often this has additional benefits to the customers and communities we serve. That’s shared value.

In this year’s report, we tell many stories of how shared value is created throughout our business. For example, in the Utility Operations section we talk about how Avista must meet state-mandated energy savings targets. As part of our sustainable business practices, the report is published online only. 
 
We’ve made PDF files available of the entire report and four of its sections for your convenience in sharing the report with others.

Shared value is at the heart of what Avista does every day. We hope you’ll take the time to read this year’s report and give us your feedback. We want to hear from you about how – together – we can continue to build shared value.

 
Published: 5/30/2012  8:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 13 , 2012

Spokane River

The spring runoff season is just beginning, and can create dangerous river flows and lake levels. Stay safe by staying out of the water during high flows.

Post by Anna Scarlett

The high river flows and lake levels we saw in the first week of April brought breathtaking views at our area dams along with water over some parts of our roads and trails. This may have you thinking we’re well into the spring runoff season. But the fact is what we saw earlier this month was just a preview of what’s to come.

An abundance of early spring rain rapidly increased the flow of water into Coeur d’Alene Lake, and from there, into the Spokane River in the last days of March and early part of April. The Spokane River peaked on April 3 with nearly 28,000 cubic feet per second flowing through downtown Spokane, while Coeur d’Alene Lake peaked at just over 2,131 feet above sea level, or about 3 feet above its normal summer level. Since then, river and lake levels have gradually fallen, remaining fairly steady for the last few days.

Today (April 13), they’re starting to rise slightly again – and we’re likely in for a couple  more months of high waters. Due to higher than normal seasonal snowpack (as of Friday April 13, it’s still at 108 percent of normal), and warmer expected temperatures in addition to the heavy rainfall we’ve already received, the National Weather Service is predicting above average river flows in the area in the coming months.

Safety is a top priority at Avista. So as warmer, sunny days draw you to the water, we want to remind you that Coeur d’Alene Lake and the downstream river and reservoir levels can change rapidly at any time, due to weather and other factors. Please use caution on the water and comply with all posted notices and closures, especially near the vicinity of hydroelectric facilities, and always wear your life jacket when on the water.

Property owners and lake users – remember to make necessary preparations, including removing boats from the water, and removing or securing docks and boathouses to accommodate changing water conditions.

When recreating on or along a river or reservoir, always follow these important safety tips:

• Always be alert for debris, obstructions, and partially submerged objects.
• Always obey warning signs near dams.
• Never cross boater restraining cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate.
• Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam - water levels can change rapidly with little warning due to operation of spill gates and turbines.
• If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
• Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult.
• Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
• When on the water, obey all warning signs and follow all rules and regulations.

Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. For more safety information, visit http://www.avistautilities.com/safety/dams.

Access water level information 24 hours a day
Avista 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 line advises 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 at http://www.avistautilities.com, keyword search “weather and water.”
 
LEARN MORE:
 
Published: 4/13/2012  4:19 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Feb 06 , 2012
By Brandi Smith

Click here to read the newsletter
Avista recently sent out the latest issue of the Spokane River Newsletter, a quarterly publication that keeps subscribers informed about our activities in and around the Spokane River. Below is an article from the newsletter that describes how we operate the Post Falls Dam during the winter season. Check out the latest issue and learn more about what Avista has been up to.

Winter river flows and Coeur d’Alene Lake levels
People commonly think floods occur in the spring. But did you know many of the highest levels recorded for Coeur d’Alene Lake have occurred in the winter? For example, on Christmas day in 1933 the lake reached an all-time peak of roughly eleven feet over its summer level.
 
Coeur d’Alene Lake is a natural lake with an outlet that naturally restricts its outflow. The primary sources of water into the lake are the St. Joe, St. Maries and Coeur d’Alene rivers. The water then flows through the outlet to create the Spokane River. Avista’s Post Falls Hydroelectric Dam is on the Spokane River, nine miles downstream of the lake’s outlet. The dam affects Coeur d’Alene Lake elevation for about half of the year. During winter and spring, lake levels are controlled entirely by the natural outlet restriction and inflows.
The winter months are generally the wet season in our region. Fluctuating temperatures, rain that occurs on top of snow, or extended heavy rain can increase flows rapidly, which in turn can result in quickly-rising river and lake elevations.

Avista’s goal each year is to draw Coeur d’Alene Lake down six to seven feet below the summer level by early January. This allows Post Falls Dam to generate electricity while providing capacity in the lake for later precipitation and runoff. Natural inflows usually exceed our turbine capacity early in the year, letting Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Spokane River find their naturally occurring levels with no influence by the dam. This free flow condition typically continues through spring run-off until late May, June or early July.

River and lake levels can change quickly. We want you to stay safe, so always use caution on the water and comply with all posted notices and closures, especially in the vicinity.
Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Coeur d’Alene Lake, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River.

In Idaho, call (208) 769-1357, in Washington call (509) 495-8043

Other stories you might enjoy:
 
Published: 2/6/2012  3:23 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 06 , 2011
Drawdown to winter level begins on Tuesday after Labor Day
 
 
Avista is beginning its annual fall drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene Sept. 6. The lake will be gradually lowered approximately a foot from full pool by the end of September, and an additional 1½ feet per month thereafter until reaching its winter level. Property owners and boaters should take measures to secure docks and boats for the winter season during this period.

As part of Avista’s FERC license to operate its Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, which includes Post Falls Dam, Avista is required to maintain the level of Coeur d’Alene Lake at summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet from as early as practical in the spring until the Tuesday after Labor Day. (Read More).
Published: 9/6/2011  12:52 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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