Flexible winter ops begin on LPO

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SANDPOINT — The level of Lake Pend Oreille is on the rise, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The corps announced on Wednesday that it is implementing Flexible Winter Power Operations at the request of the Bonneville Power Administration. The operations are scheduled to be in place through Monday.

The corps intends to store water in the lake and then begin releasing it next week. To accomplish this, outflows at Albeni Falls Dam were reduced from 20,0000 cubic feet per second to 16,000 cfs on Wednesday morning. Outflows are slated to further decrease to 12,000 cfs today.

A third decrease, to 10,000 cfs, is planned for 10 a.m. on Friday. The corps said it would issue a notification on Friday morning to confirm the flow change and discuss flow increases starting on Tuesday.

As part of the flexible ops, the lake level will increase above the typical 1-foot winter range, according to the corps. Lake elevations in the range of 2,051 feet to 2,053 feet are expected this week and next week. Later this winter, the corps said those around the lake will see the level fluctuate from 2,051-2,056 feet, but the operations planned for this week and next week will not utilize the full allowed range.

“In addition to the FWPO operations, we are also adjusting Albeni Falls operations to begin following ice best management practices due to recent cold weather and observed ice buildup. These are a set of guidelines designed to manage ice conditions both upstream and downstream of the dam,” Jon Moen of the corps’s hydraulics and hydrology branch of the corps’ water management section in Seattle said in an email.

Under these guidelines, the maximum Albeni Falls outflow change is reduced to 5,000 cfs per day and 2,000 cfs per hour. This is intended to reduce problems with ice breakup associated with flow changes downstream of the dam. Ice operations guidelines also stipulate Lake level fluctuations of 0.1 feet per day on average to prevent ice buildup from stabilizing around the shores of the Lake. The FWPO operation discussed above is designed to meet these guidelines. The corps said it will continue to follow these guidelines for as long as cold weather and ice conditions exist upstream or downstream of Albeni Falls Dam.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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