Jul 19 , 2011
Post Falls spill gates
The Post Falls Dam spill gates during high water runoff.
Photo courtesy of Avista employee Patty Hanson.
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 boat restraining systems 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 at Q’emiln Park was opened to the public Monday, July 18. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday. The median date for closing the gates is June 22. This year, cool spring temperatures and a lingering, heavy snowpack caused longer than normal high water flows, which delayed the opening of the boat launch.
 
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 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, 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 weather and water flow information here.  
 
Published: 7/19/2011  2:06 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Nov 11 , 2010

Boaters on the Spokane River who use the Q’emiln Park boat launch ramp in Post Falls have only a few days left to use the launch this season. The ramp, located upstream of Avista’s Post Falls Dam, will be closed for the season beginning Monday, Nov. 15.

The boat launch is normally closed about this time each year because of weather conditions and dropping water levels. When Avista spills water through gates at the dam, the boat launch must remain closed for safety reasons. This can happen frequently throughout 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 three feet below the summer full-pool elevation of 2,128 feet on Nov.15. 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, and river users are reminded that weather can cause conditions can change dramatically at any time. Please use caution on the water.

Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River during the subsequent 24-hour and one-week periods. 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 the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.
 
Published: 11/11/2010  10:43 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Sep 15 , 2010
Lake CdA
 
 
Avista began its annual fall drawdown of Lake Coeur d’Alene on Sept. 7. We’ll be gradually lowering the lake to about a foot from full pool by the end of September, and then an additional 1.5 feet per month until it reaches its winter level. We want shoreline property owners and boaters to be aware of the annual draft so they can make seasonal preparations, including removing boats from the water and securing docks for low-water conditions.

Avista manages the lake level to prepare for spring runoff, to mitigate flooding in the winter and to optimize power production. As part of our FERC license to operate our 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 May or June) until the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Following Labor Day, the lake is lowered to about 6 to 7 feet below summer level over a several-month period. The slow drawdown increases flows of the Spokane River and slightly decreases river levels between the lake and Post Falls Bridge. Spill gates at Post Falls Dam are not opened during the initial stages of the drawdown, and the river should remain open for recreation until November; however, river users should be aware that water levels can fluctuate at any time depending upon weather and dam operations.

For river levels, visit www.avistautilities.com/environment/ourpart/recreation. Avista has a 24-hour telephone information line that provides notification of anticipated elevation changes on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Spokane and the Spokane River during the subsequent 24-hour and one-week periods. 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 the lake and river elevation levels that may affect plans for water use.

Avista also has a new e-mail news system for customers, recreationists, property owners and others interested in news and activities related to Avista’s Spokane River Hydroelectric Project, including river levels and dam operations.

To be added to the mailing list, send an e-mail to Spokanerivernews@avistacorp.com.  Please do not send general questions or comments to this e-mail address, as it is not monitored constantly. E-mail messages that are sent out will have name(s) and contact information of Avista personnel for customers wanting more information.

Spokane River users should always use caution as water levels may change quickly. This warning applies to all areas of the river, especially around hydroelectric facilities.

By obeying warning signs, using common sense and following area rules and regulations, boaters, swimmers and other recreational users can safely enjoy the Inland Northwest’s scenic waterways.

Follow these safety tips:
• 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 anchor your boat below a dam – water levels can change rapidly with little warning.
• Watch for overhead cables and power lines, especially if you’re in a sailboat or catamaran.
• Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), no matter what your age or swimming ability.
• Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Published: 9/15/2010  2:04 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 06 , 2010
Water levels allow spill gates at Post Falls Dam to be closed

Post by Hugh Imhof

Avista is advising Spokane River users that river recreation is now permitted in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the Post Falls Dam. River volumes have dropped sufficiently to allow the spill gates at the dam to be closed. 

The City of Post Falls boat launch at Q’emiln Park is expected to be opened to the public today. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday.  The median date for closing the gates is June 22; however the date has occurred as late as July 8 in 2008 and as early as May 22 in 2005.

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 can cause rapid changes in water levels. Please exercise caution when using the waterways.

For current information on Spokane River flows and Coeur d'Alene Lake elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 208-769-1357. For information on Spokane River flows and Lake Spokane elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 509-495-8043.

Links to weather and water flow information are available here: http://www.avistautilities.com/inside/resources/Pages/waterflow.aspx
Published: 7/6/2010  10:33 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jul 02 , 2010
Post Falls Dam
 
High water conditions require open spill gates at Post Falls Dam
 
Post by Hugh Imhof

Avista is advising Spokane River users that boating and swimming remain prohibited in the area between the Spokane Street Bridge and the Post Falls Dam through the holiday weekend.  Last week’s heavy rainfall in North Idaho has resulted in higher than normal flows in the Spokane River and Avista must spill the extra water. Because of the open spill gates, it is not safe to be in the water above the dam and a Post Falls city ordinance prevents river use in that area.

Once the spill gates can be closed the Q’emiln Park boat launch will be opened and river recreation can resume. Typically this occurs sometime between Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday.  In recent years the median date for closing the gates has been June 18, however the date has occurred as late as July 8 in 2008 and as early as May 22 in 2005.

Avista expects to begin summer operation at the dam as soon as weather conditions allow.

The river above the Spokane Street Bridge and Coeur d’Alene Lake are accessible with several relatively close public boat launches open. They include the launch at Blackwell Island, Third Street Launch, Higgins Point, Boothe’s Landing and Mica Bay.

For current information on Spokane River flows and Coeur d'Alene Lake elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 208-769-1357. For information on Spokane River flows and Lake Spokane elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 509-495-8043.

Links to weather and water flow information are available on the Avista Utilities web site at http://www.avistautilities.com/inside/resources/Pages/waterflow.aspx

River users are cautioned that weather conditions can cause rapid changes in water levels. Please exercise caution when using the waterways.
Published: 7/2/2010  10:04 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 21 , 2010
Heavy rains require action, lowering of river
 
Post Falls Dam
Post Falls Dam from above.
Post by Hugh Imhof
 
Avista will need to open additional gates at the Post Falls Dam today to allow the increased flow in the Spokane River to pass by the dam. This action is due to a large amount of rain in the North Idaho mountains over the last 24 hours which is causing Coeur d’Alene Lake to rise. 

Avista is waiting to open the biggest gate until this afternoon to allow Spokane River users to move their boats and equipment to a safe location in the river. The elevation of the river near the Spokane Street Bridge this morning is about 2,124.8 ft., which is about 3 feet below summer level.   Once the bigger spill gate is opened the river level will drop as much as 7 feet below summer level. 

Coeur d’Alene Lake is currently slightly above its normal summer level of 2,128 ft. above sea level which Avista is required to maintain until after Labor Day.

As more water flows in the Spokane River between the lake and the dam, Avista must open more spill gates to allow the water to pass so that the lake remains at or near 2,128. The more spill gates that are open, the lower the elevation of the water above the dam, near the Spokane Street Bridge.   

Boaters and other river users are reminded that weather conditions can cause rapid changes in river levels. Please exercise caution on the water.
Published: 6/21/2010  9:31 AM | 2  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Jun 07 , 2010
Post Falls Dam
Post Falls Dam on the Spokane River.
 
Post by Hugh Imhof
 
This has been quite a year for unusual weather. All the rain we’ve had is increasing the flow of water into Coeur d’Alene Lake. Our federal license doesn’t permit us to let the lake go above its summer level of 2,128 ft. above sea level. So to keep that from happening we’ve been letting as much water as possible spill over the dam at Post Falls. When the river runs fast, as it is now, this causes the water level to drop in the stretch of the Spokane River upstream of the dam.

Back in April we warned river users to be extra cautious because we thought there might be a lot of unusual water levels. That has happened and some boaters have been caught with their hulls on the bottom.

If the weather cooperates the river should start to rise later this week. And even though this is an unusual year for weather, it’s normal for the river to fluctuate until around the Fourth of July, when we are typically able to close the spill gates at the dam and hold the lake level steady.

We’re looking at some ways to improve communications with river users, but please remember that conditions can change very quickly and use caution on the water.

Our website gives lots of information on conditions and two phone numbers are updated daily with a river and lake report. 

-For current information on Spokane River flows and Coeur d'Alene Lake elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 208-769-1357.

-For current information on Spokane River flows and Lake Spokane elevation (includes anticipated changes in flow and elevation for the coming week) call 509-495-8043.
Published: 6/7/2010  1:43 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 21 , 2010
Post by Dan Kolbet
 
We're always pleased when we can get out the word about safety on the bodies of water that our dams are connected with. Yesterday, KXLY reporter Jeff Humphrey did a good story on Avista raising the levels on Lake Coeur d'Alene in conjunction with low spring runoff.
 
If you're a recreational boater, that might mean you'll be able to use the lake earlier than in previous years. But with these early changes comes the dangers hidden under the water - such as rocks or wooden pilings, so watch out.
Published: 4/21/2010  9:05 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 21 , 2010
Spokane River near Post Falls

Weather conditions dictate unusual water levels

Post by Hugh Imhof
 
Avista is urging boaters to be extra careful when navigating the Spokane River above Post Falls this spring. Because of low snow pack in the watershed, the river may be at unusual levels until after the runoff is completed. 

Current water levels are between normal winter and summer seasonal elevations and the water is rising slowly. Boaters should be alert for shallow areas that can contain hidden obstacles such as rocks or wooden pilings.

The river and Coeur d’Alene Lake are expected to return to the normal summer level of 2,128 feet above sea level after the runoff is complete. Weather conditions will determine how quickly a return to summer elevation can occur.
 
Published: 4/21/2010  8:38 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Apr 03 , 2010
 
Years ago, I spent a few summers boating the St. Joe River and lower part of Coeur d’Alene Lake, which includes Chatcolet, Round, Benewah and Hidden Lakes. In fact, I learned to water-ski on the St. Joe, known for its glass-smooth surface and calm waters. In those days I didn’t give much thought to the river banks – beyond wondering where exactly the river ends and the lake begins.
 
Last week, I had the enlightening experience of seeing first-hand some of the long-term impacts of hydroelectricity, boating and other uses of the lake and river, when I joined a group touring a two-year shoreline erosion inventory and assessment on the St. Joe River where it flows through this lower portion of Coeur d’Alene Lake.
 
Avista and the Coeur d’Alene tribe are working together on this erosion study, one of the first of three major phases in our erosion measures within the Tribal waters of Coeur d’Alene Lake, and a condition of Avista’s 50-year FERC license to operate its Spokane River hydroelectric project. The study is also part of the comprehensive settlement reached between Avista and the Coeur d’Alene tribe prior to last year’s issuance of the license. In addition to compensating the Tribe for past and future storage of water, the settlement requires Avista to pay a total of $100 million into the Coeur d’Alene resource protection trust fund for costs associated with environmental measures in and around Coeur d’Alene Lake. This funding mechanism allows the Tribe and Avista to collaborate on complying with license requirements, which include this shoreline erosion control project, as well as activities in wetland restoration, water quality monitoring, aquatic weed management and protection of cultural resources on the reservation.
 
Dave Lamb of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Bruce Stoker of Earth Systems, consultants to Avista on the erosion inventory and assessment, showed a group including Avista’s Meghan Lunney, Becky Kramer from the Spokesman-Review and myself just how much the banks of this part of the St. Joe have eroded over the years, primarily due to the wave action caused by boats in high water. Bruce Gardipie, a member of the Kootenai, Salish and Confederated Tribes of Montana, who has lived on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation for 40 years, was our boat operator, and provided additional expertise.
 
I never even knew where the actual channel of the St. Joe ran, let alone that recreationists like myself could potentially contribute to its erosion. It was an eye-opener, and a good learning experience.
 
Now that the Spokane River FERC license has been issued, it’s great to see the work beginning, and it’s even better to see years of planning resulting in people working together to protect and improve the environment. This is just one of the many protection, mitigation and enhancement measures that we will implement in collaboration with the Tribe as part of our license and our ongoing commitment to protect natural resources associated with our hydroelectric projects.
 
More info
You can read the Spokesman-Review’s article, “Tribe, Avista working to protect St. Joe River levees” here.
Published: 4/3/2010  2:16 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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