I am writing in response to the letter that appeared in the August 21 edition of the Arrow Lakes News entitled “Who controls Arrow Lakes water levels?”
This summer’s lower than average Arrow Lakes Reservoir water levels were primarily the result of a major power plant outage at Mica that was needed to carry out important capital upgrades, as well as BC Hydro’s continued obligations under the Columbia River Treaty. In June, we advised stakeholders that the level of Arrow Lakes Reservoir was projected to be lower than average starting in July, and we have made every effort to keep the community updated.
BC Hydro took a number of steps to help offset these conditions, including negotiating a summer storage agreement with the U.S. to help keep the Arrow Lakes Reservoir water level higher. Water levels in July would have been about five feet lower without this agreement. We are also continuing to investigate any other reasonable measures to balance reservoir levels in the BC Hydro system.
The conditions in 2012 were the result of higher than average snowpack and record-breaking precipitation in the Columbia Basin. To address water levels not seen since the dams were built, BC Hydro managed its facilities to provide flood control under the terms of the Columbia River Treaty and the new long-term Non-Treaty Storage Agreement. We worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power, FortisBC and Columbia Power to avoid widespread flooding and damage on both sides of the border.
BC Hydro also increased funding to enable greater removal of debris from the Arrow Lakes Reservoir during the summer of 2012, particularly in priority public use areas, such as ferry crossings, boat ramps and recreation sites.
Mary Anne Coules
Stakeholder Engagement Advisor, BC Hydro