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MP Stetski seeks assurances on Lake Koocanusa

By Contributor
April 23rd, 2017

Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski contacted the US Army Corps of Engineers this week to get answers on the low level of water in the Lake Koocanusa Reservoir.

“Each year at this time, residents keep an eye on Lake Koocanusa to ensure that it isn’t getting too low,” Stetski said. “Because the level is controlled by the Libby Dam in the US, I spoke with the Army Corps of Engineers to find out what’s going on.”

Lake Koocanusa is 90 miles long and at full pool, 370 feet deep and straddles the Canada/USA border between Southeastern BC and Montana.

The lake is a reservoir in British Columbia and Montana formed by the damming of the Kootenay River by the Libby Dam in 1972.

Stetski said engineer Joel Fenolio, the Upper Columbia Senior Water Manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, responded with a detailed account of why the water levels are so low.

“We are currently trying to give Libby Dam enough space in the reservoir prior to this spring’s freshet,” Fenolio wrote in an email.

“This winter has been extremely cold and wet and the snowpack in the Kootenay Basin is sitting around 125 per cent of average with a water supply forecast for this spring and summer of 130 per cent of average.”  

Fenolio said this has set the end of month flood risk elevation target to 2325.4 feet for the end of April to try and give space in the reservoir to try to minimize the flood risk at Bonners Ferry, ID and Kootenay Lake.

“The current elevation is 2368 feet and we are projecting to have Libby Dam down to 2355 to 2360 feet by the end of the month by releasing water through the powerhouse,” he said.

Fenolio also wrote that the Corps will reassess the downstream flood risk weekly and to determine if they should start refilling the Libby Dam the first week of May.

“It’s critical that we keep a line of communication open with our US counterparts,” Stetski said. “The expectation at this point is that the lake will reach full pool in July.”

“I will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

Categories: General

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