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.
The Lakes Commission’s next quarterly meeting will be on March 31, 2016 at Dover City Hall at 9 am. Take a look at the agenda. This meeting starts out with two updates on potential Priest Lake projects. One is a study that will evaluate the impacts that raising Priest Lake to hold more water in preparation for a drought and what impacts this could have on shoreline property owners. The other project involves finding a solution to replace the failing Thorofare breakwater to maintain motorized boat access to Upper Priest Lake. There will also be an update on lake levels on Pend Oreille. The Bonner County Weed Supervisor will present on treatment studies on the invasive aquatic plant, flowering rush. There will be a Pend Oreille fishery update from Fish and Game. Montana DEQ will be presenting on the stormwater and discharge permits for the proposed Rock Creek Mine.
Pend Oreille Lake Levels: Lake Pend Oreille is currently under winter operations which allow for fluctuation between 2051′ and 2056′. The water level will most likely start to rise in April as runoff increases and will be at the summer operational level by the beginning of July and hopefully sooner if the flows are not too high.
Short term modeling forecasts are provided by the Northwest River Forecast Center. Their projections for Albeni Falls Dam inflow, outflow and the Lake Pend Oreille at the Hope gage can be found here:
Last year the Army Corps and the State of Idaho reached an agreement that will bring more certainty to the recreational season on Pend Oreille. Typically the lake will stay at full pool through the third weekend in September or September 18, whichever is later. The pool can then be drawn down one foot by the fourth weekend or the 25th of September. The agreement also clarifies operations and rational behind these operations for the other seasons. To view the entire agreement please click here.
Priest Lake Levels
Priest Lake is at its winter lake level. It should rise three feet during the spring runoff.
The summer of 2015 brought record high heat, high evaporation, low snowpack and low rainfall. This led to difficulties in holding the lake level at full pool while allowing water to flow into the Priest River. Through constant monitoring a small outflow of about 42 cfs was retained into the river even at the peak of the heat while maintaining full pool on the lake. Hopefully this situation will not occur in the future, but it did bring to light many of the decisions that will need to be made in the future about the operation of Outlet Dam.