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Letter: FortisBC speaks to Kootenay Lake Levels

To The Editor:

FortisBC has been a part of the coordinated emergency response to flooding throughout the province and is working proactively to minimize customer and environmental impact, mitigate damage to our systems in the communities where we operate, and ensure the safety of residents and FortisBC employees.  This year’s snowpack, which was over 150 per cent of normal levels in some areas, along with the recent unseasonably hot weather have increased the risk of flooding along Kootenay Lake.

We are asking the public’s assistance to help us monitor and document issues on Kootenay Lake that will help us respond to rising lake levels. The Nelson Daily readers can send any comments or pictures to us as at kootenaylakeinfo@fortisbc.com.

We would also like to take this opportunity to share with your readers how Kootenay Lake levels are managed. As many of your readers know, FortisBC owns and operates four dams on the Kootenay River. FortisBC’s Corra Linn dam is the closest to Kootenay Lake and can operate as the control point for water flowing out of Kootenay Lake.

However, just upstream from Corra Linn is Grohman Narrows, which creates a physical restriction of water flowing out of Kootenay Lake. Since the beginning of March, FortisBC has been operating Corra Linn dam such that the maximum amount of water can flow out of Kootenay Lake, as limited by Grohman Narrows.

There are two dams upstream that also play a role in Kootenay Lake levels; BC Hydro’s Duncan Dam and the Libby Dam operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Without the Libby and Duncan dams in place today, peak lake levels could be approximately two to three metres (six to ten feet) higher as a result of natural inflows.

FortisBC holds the International Joint Commission (IJC) order for Kootenay Lake, and each year, presents its annual operation of Kootenay Lake to the IJC Kootenay Lake Board of Control, which is then followed by a public meeting. More information can be found at www.ijc.org/en_/iklbc/home. This year the IJC meeting will be held in Bonner’s Ferry in early fall and FortisBC welcomes all concerned lake residents to attend.

We encourage your readers to get up-to-date information on Kootenay Lake levels by visiting our website at fortisbc.com, following us on Twitter @FortisBC, or calling our contact centre at 1-866-436-7847 to sign-up for our Kootenay Lake level email updates. For safety related concerns regarding flooding, please visit the Emergency Management BC website or on Twitter at @EmergencyInfoBC.

Sincerely,

Barry Smithson

FortisBC Director, Operations