Optimism is waning for river levels once predicted to be above-average this summer. Chelan PUD is responding with careful management of its hydro projects to support salmon runs, recreation, and the rising need for energy in the West.
In a report to commissioners Tuesday, staff said the water supply forecast for Grand Coulee – the largest reservoir upriver of Chelan County – is at 87 percent of average, down from more than 100 percent of average in mid-February (starts at 00:40:18 on the board audio). March and April were the fourth driest on record for Washington.
“We may experience more fluctuations in flows at Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams,” said Janet Jaspers, director of energy operations planning and trading. “During a low-water year, that means the elevations at our reservoirs may fluctuate more than in the past. We have two of the smallest water storage reservoirs on the Columbia River, but we will do what we can within our license requirements to balance various stakeholder interests.”
Chelan PUD continues to refine how it manages river levels since a coordination agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration and Grant and Douglas County PUDs expired in 2019. Chelan PUD remains interested in coordinated dam operations as part of the vision to produce the best value for the most people for the longest time.
For recreationalists on local waterways, it’s always important to be mindful of changing river conditions. River fluctuations can impact docks and launches, and create different currents and hazards along the river – sometimes unpredictably.
Here are a few tips for safe adventures on the water this summer:
- Download Chelan PUD’s Current App, a free app that provides six features -- including real-time information about river flows, boat launches and lake levels. Visit chelanpud.org/app for download information.
- Remember that rivers are dynamic and conditions can change rapidly. If docking on shore, check conditions every few minutes.
- Stay at least 400 feet away from dams on the river, and consider any area within 100 yards from the shoreline as a no-wake zone.
In other news, commissioners: