The Lake Pend Oreille, Pend Oreille River, Priest Lake and Priest River Commission, also known as the “Lakes Commission,” is based in Sandpoint, Idaho. To learn more about the make up and/or mission of the Commission, please visit the “About” page.
Lake Pend Oreille has reached it’s winter level of 2051′ for the winter of 2013-2014. Flexible Winter Power Operations (the lake fluctuation) can begin in mid to late December during which waters can fluctuate between 2051′ and 2056′ until the end of March. Waters should begin to rise towards the end of March.
This year the lake was drawn down a full two feet by September 30 at the request of the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA). The Lakes Commission does not support the practice of drawing the lake down two feet by Sept. 30 each winter. Currently BPA is requesting that this be standard practice for years that the lake is to be drawn down to 2051′. The Lakes Commission holds that this practice limits fall recreation on the lake and has historically not been needed to bring the water down to 2051′ by the start of shoreline kokanee spawning. The Lakes Commission will submit a request each summer that the lake level only be drawn down one foot by September 30 to support fall recreation on the water.
Army Corps is currently modeling drafting water from Lake Pend Oreille in the late summer in attempt to cool downstream water temperatures to benefit bull trout.
Erosion and other impacts from the Flexible Winter Power Operations are not fully understood even though the operation is standard on full drawdown years. Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game recently announced that they can not prove that kokanee benefit from the higher winter pool. Without the benefit of 2055′ to kokanee the lake will be drawn down to 2051′ every winter which means that the fluctuating can occur yearly. If a different lake level is desired a Systems Operating Request would need to be submitted to ACOE. This request would need substantial rational to be considered.