OKANAGAN - Thanks to the hot weather, Okanagan Lake is now below full pool and the spring flooding is now officially behind us.
As of August 1, Okanagan Lake measured 342.43 metres above sea level, five centimetres below full pool, which is 342.48 metres above sea level.
However, at the end of July, Okanagan Lake should be measuring closer to 342.24, 19 centimetres below what it is now, according to Shaun Reimer the section head, public safety and protection for the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations.
“It’s very, very high for this time of year, well above the channel design flows,” said Reimer, referring to the Okanagan river channel where Okanagan Lake flows.
Due to the high water levels, the channel, located in Penticton, has been flowing rapidly, making floating along the channel extremely dangerous. In June, a 21-year-old man drowned while rafting down the channel.
Currently the flow out of Okanagan Lake Dam in Penticton is roughly 75 cubic metres per second, according to Environment Canada.
“What we’ll start doing this week is ramping those flows down,” said Reimer. “We’ll take it down by 10 to 15 cubic metres lower, not all at once, but in stages and watch how the lake responds and adjust from there.”
According to Reimer, the flow rate should be back on target by the fall of this year. Once the levels go down, Reimer says he predicts we'll see minor erosion.
However, as temperatures rise in the Okanagan, lake levels will continue to drop, whether the dam is open or not, says Reimer.
“It’s been so hot, that there is significant evaporation on the lake right now,” he said. “It’s very typical in the summer to have negative inflows into Okanagan Lake, there’s more water evaporation than there is inflow - if the heat continues.”
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