Losing some of Gyro Park’s sandy beach to rising water is just another day of summer living in the Lower Columbia Basin.
Water levels appeared to climb the banks of the Columbia River around Trail this week, but according to BC Hydro, it’s nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year.
The current water level, which is monitored at Birchbank, measures 7.6 metres or about 25 feet with a current discharge rate of 128,000 cubic feet per second (kcfs).
That level is expected to rise by about a half metre next week when a forecasted increase in discharge levels could swell the measured depth at Birchbank to 8 metres or 26.24 feet.
Meaning, beach-goers at the popular City of Trail riverfront park might lose a little dry land by July 18.
Looking back at last year’s peak discharge of 155,000 kcfs (8.75 m or about 29 feet at Birchbank) or the unusually high level in 2012 of 35 feet measured at Birchbank, this July is turning out to be quite unremarkable.
“Reservoir water levels are difficult to forecast,” explained BC Hydro’s Sabrina Locicero.
The unpredictability of weather patterns, inflows, hydropower demands and electricity prices affect how much or how little water is discharged into the Columbia River.
BC Hydro has forecasted this summer’s peak discharge rate to happen in early July at 140,000 kcfs, which translates into a water level of 8.2 m or almost 27 feet.
“We do have operational changes and flows where we see significant differences on the shoreline,” she said.
“But that’s when we send out notices and public announcements.”
Water levels are calculated by the utility company on an ongoing basis using discharge rates, or the volume of water that moves over a designated point in a fixed period of time.
Birchbank houses the measurement device that gauges water levels in Trail because Columbia River flows at that site are the sum of discharges from the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, the Kootenay River and other tributaries.