Columbia River expected to rise one metre over next two days

The discharge rates will increase on June 25

The Arrow Lakes Reservoir is expected to peak in the next week.

Water levels on the Columbia River at Birchbank were expected to rise by a metre last weekend, and another couple feet this week as the Arrow Lake Reservoir edges close to capacity.

“We are increasing flows out of Arrow Lakes Reservoir to offset the high inflows that are currently coming into the reservoir due to weather and snowmelt,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Mary Anne Coules. “There is also forecast of rain in the Columbia this week.”

As of June 27, Arrow Lakes Reservoir was at 439.5 metres (1,441 feet) and was expected to reach 0.3 to 0.6 metres (one to two feet) from full pool in the near-term, rising to 439.8 metres by July 3.

The normal licensed operating range for Arrow Lakes Reservoir is between 419.9 metres (1,377.9feet) and 440.1 metres (1,444 feet). The reservoir can be operated up to two feet above its normal maximum level, if approved by the comptroller of water rights, explained BC Hydro.

As a result, Columbia River banks near Trail and Castlegar are high and some like Trail’s Gyro Park boat launch is partially under water and only a strip of Gyro beach remains. Yet, according to BC Hydro, there is no threat of flooding.

“Columbia River flows at Birchbank are currently well within the historical range,” said Coules. “It is typical to see increases in discharges during freshet. Based on the current forecast, we expect flows at Birchbank to peak tomorrow (June 27) at approximately 140,000 cubic feet per second. This is well below any flood concerns.”

On June 21, 2019, Arrow Lakes Reservoir maxed out at 438.91 metres (1440.0 feet, 4.0 feet from full), while its last minimum elevation of 428.2 metres (1404.8 feet) was on March 3, 2020.

Boaters and beachgoers, and those who recreate on Arrow Lake and the Columbia River are asked to be aware of the change in flow and floating debris, and be respectful of others.

“Please make safety your top priority when planning activities near the Columbia River,” added Coules.

Up-to-date reservoir elevation and river flow information can be obtained by calling BC Hydro’s toll-free number at 1-877- 924-2444 or at bchydro.com.

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Gyro Park boat launch in Trail is partially under water after spillage from the Arrow Lakes Hugh Keenleyside Dam raised the Columbia River close to two metres in the past week. Jim Bailey photo.

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