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Oliver & Osoyoos  

Osoyoos Lake held at historically high level in preparation for drought

Lake held high for drought

Osoyoos Lake water levels are being maintained at a higher elevation than normal, as the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control attempts to counteract anticipated low run-offs.

In a news release on Monday, the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control said it is maintaining those levels because it expects the lower spring run-off due to lower-than-normal snowpacks.

As of April 9, Osoyoos Lake has been seeing an elevation of 277.92 metres, a historical high since 1987 for this time of year. Lake elevation levels are typically closer to 277.5 metres in mid-April.

According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the province is is averaging 63 per cent of normal snowpack, which is the lowest April average in over five decades. In Oliver and Osoyoos, the snowpack is between 70 and 80 per cent of normal.

“Upstream of Osoyoos Lake, Okanagan Lake is also at a higher-than-normal elevation. Discharge from both Okanagan Lake and Osoyoos Lake is typically increased in late winter to prepare for the inflow from melting snowpack,” reads a news release from the IOLBC.

“However, due to the low snowpack observed across British Columbia this winter, lake managers have decided to counteract the potential impacts of a low runoff year by holding more water than usual in the lakes.“

Water flowing out from the Okanagan river in Penticton is also at a historically low point, with the current discharge at 5.15 cubic metres per second, whereas this time of year it is typically roughly 15 cubic metres per second.

Flows of the Similkameen River, which joins the Okanogon River south of the Zosel Dam in Oroville, has an April to July flow volume forecast of 685,000 acre-feet, below the 1 million acre-feet drought criteria.

“The International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control has notified the Washington Department of Ecology that the Order that Osoyoos Lake can be operated under the drought rule curve as defined by the 2013 Order," said the IOLBC.



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