The City of Trail staff was busy cleaning up debris left behind by the receding waters near the Gyro Park boat launch on Tuesday. Guy Bertrand photo

Trail crews clean up as Columbia River levels fall

Plenty of debris by Gyro Park beach and boat launch

The spring flood on the Columbia River is just about over, but it may be a while yet before residents of Trail can access the city’s river recreation areas.

The City of Trail’s engineering crews are working on repairing the Gyro Park boat launch and beach after the mess caused by higher-than-normal river levels this year, says Andrea Jolly, the city’s communication and events coordinator.

“The crews are cleaning up the debris that came up with the high water,” Jolly told the Trail Times. “What they need to do is clean it up, inspect the dock for any damage, do any repairs if needed, and do final inspection.”

She said the city will issue a notice when the dock is safe for public use.

The Gyro Park beach also needs a clean up, and some of the anchored logs have to be re-attached. Jolly said once it’s confirmed to be safe it will also be reopened.

City officials are in touch with BC Hydro’s water managers to keep up-to-date with the river flows, Jolly explained.

A spokesperson for Hydro said after the 10th wettest year in a half-century of record-keeping, it appears the worst may be over for the spring run-off.

“The Columbia River has been running high since March, mostly due to the high snowpack,” explained Jennifer Walker-Larsen, a stakeholder engagement officer with BC Hydro. That runoff peaked around June 10 with 150,000 cubic feet/sec of runoff. That’s now down to 130,000 cu.ft./sec, and is expected to drop to 100,000 cu.ft./sec by the end of the month.

“We had a very quick pulse of snowmelt,” says Walker-Larsen. “It was a cool, wet spring and the snowmelt was delayed across the Columbia-Kootenay. Then we got that hot weather, but that meant we had a big pulse of water coming in from snowmelt.”

Those inflows have diminished now that most of the lower-level snowpack is gone.

Walker-Larsen says the river level may rebound in early July to 130,000 cu.ft./sec, as BC Hydro boosts flows to meet electrical production targets under the Columbia River Treaty, but that is standard operating procedure.

Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake are both at near-normal levels, with the Arrow reservoir expected to peak at about four feet below full pool, and Kootenay Lake staying just below the record levels set in 2012. Water levels on Kootenay Lake may stay high as water is released from the Duncan Dam.

“The only thing now is, all our forecasts assume average weather,” explained Walker-Larsen. “There’s always the chance of record rainfall, but barring that, is a fairly typical operation at this time.”

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