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
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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 March 24, 2020)
The “Oct. 1 Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the annual forecasted Operating Range for the water year (Oct. 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2020). 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 (Mar. 24, 2020 – Sept. 30, 2020).
Single unit generation is planned to follow the target curve for dry and average years. Lake Chelan is expected to begin to refill the first week of April, based on current weather and inflow estimates. The District’s March 1, preliminary water supply forecast is for 92 percent of average from April – July in the Lake Chelan Basin. Lake levels are managed to meet recreation, fish, flood control, erosion control, and tributary obstruction removal objectives. 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 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.