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Spokane River
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

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
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

Jan 18 , 2010
Click for more detailed report
This Bill Analyzer report shows how
weather impacted my December
energy usage.
Post by Dan Kolbet

I went outside during lunch today, because unlike the soggy weekend we had in Spokane, the sun was shining and the temperature was over 50 degrees. Even over the last few days, while the rain was pretty constant, the temperatures were up. While it’s unlikely you’ll need shorts and sun block anytime soon, it’s definitely been a mild winter.

By comparison to last year at this time, we were suffering from bitter record cold temps and mounds of immovable snow. Snow in itself doesn’t really have a direct impact on your utility bill, but it’s my personal assertion that when the lawn is full of snow, I’m more likely to bump up the thermostat a few degrees to shake the dust off the psychological cold.

It’s really the temperature outside, combined with your usage that impacts your monthly bill. But you don’t have to take my word for it – you can track how weather impacts your bill through your free My Account, which is available to all customers.

When I went back today and looked at my house’s account I saw that through December, the average temperature in my area was actually 10 degrees colder than the previous month – actually increasing my bill $31-51. It just goes to show how quickly we forget about the bad weather – when good (i.e. warm) weather happens. Next month I’ll be able to look back on January and see how the warm weather saved me money.

Click here to see a report the Avista Bill Analyzer created for my house.

If you’d like to track your energy usage online for free, sign up for a My Account and you too can utilize features like the Bill Analyzer, online energy audits, payment options and more.
Published: 1/18/2010  4:12 PM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

Dec 14 , 2009
Hard at work
Clearing snow can be a big
Post by Dan Kolbet
If you’re anything like my two kids (OK, me too), you’ve been anxiously anticipating the pending snow and disappointed by the wimpy dusting of snow we received last night in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. Now, ask me again if I’m excited about the snow after digging my car out of a ditch or spending hours shoveling the driveway or sidewalk and I might be singing a different tune.

But, at least today – pre-snow – I’m excited.

Snow in the Northwest, at least over the last few years, hasn’t been all that friendly. It comes like a led blanket filling the streets and making travel plans slower, if not non-existent. We bought new tires for my wife’s car this weekend and those chains we bought last year are still in the trunk, hopefully for good.

The snow blower is prepped and ready to do the heavy lifting. I got a funny look from my 4-year-old when I pulled the noisy contraption out of the shed in October and fired it up – you know, “just in case.” Better to be over-prepared, I said. She told me not to block in her Barbie Jeep in the garage with my snow blower. Fair enough.

Big snow, little meter.
What you can't see in this picture
is that the snow piles on either side
of this gas meter are about 30 feet
We never had a regularly-in-operation snow blower when I was growing up. Excluding me, of course. The driveway also had those pesky little blacktop bumps that always seemed to mess up my rhythm and jam the shovel into my gut when I got going too fast. I can still feel the handle of that wood and plastic shovel that I cursed every snow day for ruining my fort building and sledding.

But alas, I’ve graduated to a real snow blower that’s pushing five years now - a gift from my mom one December. And no, it didn’t make up for not having a snow blower for the 18 years I lived at home. It was close though, especially over the last two years of record-breaking snow.

The point of my trip down this snowy memory lane is to remind you to keep a clear path to your electric and gas meters. If you miss it on the first big snow, you might never remember to do it. One shovel-wide path is enough. I job-shadowed a meter reader this summer and saw how tough it was to get to some of the meters. Some people tend to pile up leftover items on the side of their houses, making the trip to the meter a treacherous one. Now pile on a foot of snow and it multiples the danger.

It’s not just meter readers that need to get to your meter. Gas and electric service personnel may also need to access your meter this winter – and that’s a safety issue for your whole house.

So, believe me when I say that I know how much work it is to keep the snow in its place, a safe distance from sidewalks, driveways, walkways and to your utility meters. Yet, I think a little extra effort is certainly worth the peace of mind it can bring you.

Let it snow.
Published: 12/14/2009  11:41 AM | 0  Comments | 0  Links to this post

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