Lake Chelan annual operating range and lake level history
Lake Chelan draws thousands of visitors and residents to its shores each year. Whether the purpose is to fish, swim, boat or simply meander along its shores, the lake is a popular gathering place. It’s also a vital part of the Chelan County PUD network of hydroelectric resources. Though the current forecast for 2015 is less than average, residents and visitors to Lake Chelan will find conditions favorable for summer recreation. Click here for the Northwest River Forecast Center water supply forecast for Lake Chelan.
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Lake levels are expected to be within the forecasted operating range most of the time.
Actual lake levels may be higher or lower than the forecasted operating range.
Future Operation (updated Aug. 25):
The final April 1 to July 31 water supply was approximately 66 percent-of-average. This is the sixth lowest year in the last 60 years. Temperatures in the Chelan Basin have been above average for the summer season, while precipitation has been below average.
During the later part of July, the lake level was reduced about .5 foot prior to start of one of the two Chelan Hydro project’s generating units being taken out of service for planned maintenance work on Aug. 4. With only half the project’s generating capability available, there is half the ability to generate inflows and further reduce the lake level, as usual this time of year, prior to the unit’s scheduled return Sept. 25. Additionally, should inflows be higher than forecast during this outage period, this allows some room in the lake to catch unexpected water while keeping spill risk low.
Lake Levels in the foreseeable future are forecast to be within the “Current Forecasted Operating Range” shown in the above graph. Power generation is expected to continue to be intermittent through September. License minimum target elevations for 2015 have been met to date, and it is anticipated that the remainder can be achieved from now through Oct. 1. The next license minimum target elevation is 1,098.7 on Sept. 7.
For Those on the Go
A direct link to current lake level readings is available using smart phones and tablets by scanning a QR (Quick Response) code. The code is available on posters at boat launches and marinas and rack cards distributed throughout the Chelan-Manson-Chelan Falls community.
Lake Level Management
Lake Chelan is the reservoir for the Lake Chelan Hydro Project. Managing the level of popular Lake Chelan requires balancing seven objectives in the operating license that together provide recreation, protect fish, reduce erosion and restore year-round flows to the Chelan River.
Managing the level of the lake is not an exact science. It involves a series of forecasts and calculations, with the added uncertainty of weather. However, updated tools and additional data will help us provide information that is more useful for residents and visitors.
Targeting a Range
Chelan PUD estimates that Lake Chelan can be operated within the above Current Operating Range most of the time, and meet the District’s seven license operating objectives and target elevations in most years.
We are committed to letting you know about any changes in expected lake levels as soon as we can so residents and visitors know what to expect. We welcome your comments or questions about Lake Chelan levels.
The District expects to maintain the lake level within a range of 1,084 to 1,100 feet above sea level during most years. In extremely wet years, the lake level could be lowered to 1,083 feet above sea level, or lower (the license minimum is 1,079 feet above sea level), as more room is needed to capture increased runoff. Factors that can affect lake level management include:
We are sensitive to the needs of the many users of Lake Chelan. Below are the elevations at the bottom of each concrete boat ramp. As lake levels fluctuate, boaters are asked to take these elevations into consideration before launching a boat.
|Elevation at |
End of Boat Ramp
|Chelan Riverwalk Park||Chelan PUD||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1080.5 feet|
|Lake Chelan State Park||WA State Parks||Chelan||1 concrete ramp||1090.0 feet|
|City of Chelan||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1090.0 feet|
|Manson Bay Park||Manson Parks||Manson||1 concrete ramp||1077.9 feet|
|Old Mill Park||Manson Parks||Manson||4 concrete ramps||1082.9 feet|
|25-Mile Creek State Park||WA State Parks||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1093.0 feet|