Beach goers may find a little less sand to perch on this weekend at Gyro Park in Trail.

Beach goers may find a little less sand to perch on this weekend at Gyro Park in Trail.

River to remain high

Water to be released from Arrow Lakes Reservoir into the Columbia for most of summer.

Beach goers may find a little less sand to perch on at Gyro Park this weekend. And that could remain the trend this summer.

Under dry conditions, the operating agreement with the U.S., being the Columbia River Treaty and Non-Treaty Storage Agreement, call for more water to be released from the Arrow Lakes Reservoir.

Snow pack in the Columbia River Basin on both sides of the border is very low and current forecasts indicate that 2015 could be the fourth driest year on record, says BC Hydro’s Jennifer Walker-Larsen.

“The current June forecast predicts the water supply for the Columbia River Basin from April to August will be about 70 per cent of normal,” she explained.

She said 2014 was an average water year, and discharge flows from Hugh L. Keenleyside Dam and Arrow Lakes Hydro were about half of what they measure this year.

At the beginning of May, discharge rates from the dam and Arrow Lake Hydro measured 481 cubic metres per second (cumecs). Since then discharge flows have been on the incline, with the last increase noted to be 1,104 cumecs to 1,586 cumecs from May 30 to June 2.

Higher discharge flows mean higher river levels downstream, Walker-Larsen explained.

“When combined the outflows from the Kootenay River, Columbia River levels at Birchbank are now about four feet higher prior to last weekend’s flow changes.”

With another flow increase projected for Saturday, Walker-Larsen asks people to exercise caution near the shoreline.

“Please be mindful of higher than usual Columbia River flows for this time of year,” she added. “And make safety your top priority when planning activities near the river.”

For more information about Columbia River flows and BC Hydro’s expected 2015 operations, the public is invited to join the company’s operations update open house on Monday in the Castlegar and District Community Complex from 6-8 p.m.