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. Click here for the Northwest River Forecast Center water supply forecast for Lake Chelan.
Read our blog post: Lake Chelan lake levels: Each year is unique
Graph lines can be turned "on" and "off" by clicking on the legend names above.
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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.
Click here for lake levels over the last 10 days
Future Operation (updated Aug. 14, 2018)
The “Oct. 1 Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the annual forecasted Operating Range for the water year (Oct. 1, 2017 – Sept. 30, 2018). The “Current Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the most recent forecasted operating range between now and the end of the water year (Aug. 14, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2018).
Both Chelan Dam generating units are scheduled to be out of service until the end of September for maintenance. Spill into the Chelan River Gorge is expected to be higher than average for this time of the year in order to manage lake levels to meet recreation, fish, flood control, erosion control, and tributary obstruction removal objectives. Lake Levels are expected to temporarily decrease to facilitate fisheries studies in the Chelan River. The slightly lower lake level is expected return to forecasted levels by the end of the month. Please note that Lake Chelan is a “full lake” at (above) 1,098.0 feet and that 1,100.0 feet is the license maximum. Operating the lake at or near 1,100.0 feet increases flood and high spill risk in the event of a wind or rain event. Chelan County PUD does not control inflows into the lake but does plan for and react to a likely range of inflows, which are dependent on precipitation events and temperatures (snow melt). This web page is updated regularly to reflect the latest conditions.
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:
- High runoff due to a wet water year
- Early or late snow melt
- Project operation and/or maintenance needs
- Energy market conditions
Public Boat Ramps at Lake Chelan
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.