Lake Chelan Lake Levels

Photo of Lake Chelan

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.


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

Lake Chelan Lake Level (Past 10 Days)
Future Operation (updated May 24):

The “Oct. 1 Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the annual forecasted Operating Range for the water year (October 2015 – September 2016).  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 (May 24, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2016).               

The District’s April 1 Final -  April – July water supply forecast is 116 percent of average.   

Both generating units at Chelan Hydro are in service and generating full time.  Due to the very early heat and snowpack runoff, cumulative inflows starting Oct. 1, 2015, are still the highest in our 64-year data set, but beginning to taper off.  Spill is currently 500 cubic feet per second (cfs).  The District expects spill to for control lake level to continue into June.  The lake level is expected to go up and down relatively small amounts through the remainder of this year’s runoff period, depending upon how and when  the runoff is received.  The runoff period is running about three weeks earlier than normal, and the snowpack will likely all be gone in late June.  Lake Chelan will be well above the minimum target elevation of  1,094.0 on June 1.  Chelan PUD expects to meet all minimum target elevations this year. 

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.

Upper lake boat launch sites map
Lower lake boat launch sites map