A recent photo of the Hugh Keenleyside dam illustrates the high water levels facing the region.

Arrow Lake Reservoir levels high, but not highest ever

***UPDATED Tuesday, July 10, 2012: Reservoirs throughout the Kootenay-Columbia region are at the highest many people can remember.

Updated Tuesday, July 10, 2012

As of Tuesday, July 10, the Arrow Lakes Reservoir water level is 440.4 metres (1,444.9 feet), 0.3 metres (0.9 feet) above the normal full pool level, and is expected to continue to rise 0.2 feet per day due to the recent spate of hot weather that is causing increased snow melt flows, said a BC Hydro update.

The influx of water will cause the reservoir to reach 440.588 metres by as early as Saturday, July 15, according to BC Hydro.

 

Reservoirs throughout the Kootenay-Columbia region are at the highest many people in the area can remember seeing.

An update from BC Hydro on July 4 confirmed that the Arrow Lakes Reservoir would reach its “normal full pool level” of 440.1 metres and was likely to rise .6 metres (2 feet) more, depending on weather conditions.

“Inflows from Kootenay River remain higher than expected,” said Hydro rep Jen Walker-Larsen, “as a result BC Hydro is continuing to limit discharge from Hugh Keenleyside dam to minimize downstream flood damage.”

A burst of high temperatures might also keep Kootenay River flows high, as the melting snow pack adds to the river’s volume.

Hydro has the go ahead from the B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights to raise the level of the reservoir to 440.7 metres until July 31, 2012.

Larsen said that Hydro is hoping to keep the duration of the unusually high water level short, and is planning to increase discharge flows from Hugh Keenleyside dam as soon as the Kootenay River flows subside.

“This year recorded inflows to Arrow Lakes Reservoir from February to July 3 are the fourth highest when compared to inflows recorded in other years since 1970,” Larsen said.

The high water and spilling near Revelstoke has made some people nervous about the structural integrity of the dams, but Larsen told The Arrow Lakes News that the dams were designed to hold this much water and more. She also said that spilling during low-demand periods like this one isn’t uncommon. If there were serious issues with the dam itself, Hydro would notify everyone right away, said Larsen.

Nakusp Fire Chief and Emergency Co-ordinator Terry Warren also said this was the case, and said that he would know weeks before the dam actually broke that there was a problem.