Corps, tribe mull experimental drawdowns - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Corps, tribe mull experimental drawdowns

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Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — Although a pre-Labor Day experimental drawdown of Lake Pend Oreille is not anticipated this year, there is still a chance that an experimental drawdown could occur after the holiday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

However, the extent of a post-Labor Day experimental drawdown or its feasibility remain unclear.

“We’ve got to get through all of the preliminary work first to see whether or not it’s even going to work using the computer models. We’re not real heavy on the details just yet,” said A. Scott Lawrence, a corps spokesman in Seattle.

The corps and Kalispel Tribe of Indians are studying the release of water from the lake via Albeni Falls Dam in August and September, when temperatures in the Pend Oreille River can be lethal to endangered bull trout and native westslope cutthroat trout.

The study is part of an agreement reached last year between the corps, the tribe, the Bonneville Power Administration and Bureau of Reclamation.

Corps scientists are currently evaluating data and refining models to assess relationships between possible operational adjustments and downstream water temperature. The agency is contemplating an experimental post-Labor Day release to assess its influence on downstream temperatures.

Lawrence said such an experimental drawdown could be incremental.

A pre-Labor Day drawdown is not in the cards for 2013, according to Lawrence.

The prospect of late summer or early fall drawdowns has raised concerns in Bonner County due to the potential impact on recreation on Lake Pend Oreille.

The Pend Oreille Basin Commission was briefed Monday on the status of the drawdown analysis and Lawrence said the corps expects to have a clearer idea what the drawdowns could look like this summer.

Lawrence said the corps intends to give a follow-up presentation to the commission when it meets again this summer.

The commission has been monitoring the issue and board members have met with tribal officials. However, the commission has yet to take any action.

Erin Mader, the commission’s program coordinator, said the board does not want to see a significant drawdown prior to Labor Day or immediately after.

However, the commission does have a shared interest in aiding native fish populations.

“If there’s room to improve native fish habitat while not really impacting recreation, I think that would be our choice,” said Mader.

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  • posted at 8:28 am on Mon, Apr 29, 2013.


    The people who pay large taxes for lakefront will have them reduced by fifty percent as the lake can only be used 50 percent of the time.

  • L Wallace posted at 12:05 am on Mon, Apr 29, 2013.

    L Wallace Posts: 1412

    Many good points below.

    The education system force feeds evolution as science and the rest of the government tries to stop evolution from happening. The fish will either adapt to warmer water or they will move up or down steam to areas of cooler water.

    Evil white men may be in majority numbers but politically correct minorities seem to have the power. Citizen government must have near constant citizen involvement. The recreation season on this lake is pretty short as it is.

  • bonnerben posted at 9:20 pm on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    Kudos to Wilson for having the guts to bring the truth to the surface. Federal bureaucrats and disgruntled indians teaming up to make economic hardship for the evil white man. Has the Corps ever tried inviting other stake holders to their private parties? What about the marinas, restaurants, boat rentals, vacation rentals, users of City Beach, the sightseeing boat that operates out of the downtown marina, all businesses that rely on water use tourism, the float plane that operates out of Dover, the waterfront property owners? Have they been invited to these meetings. Do they know they are being held? Do the Corps and the tribes care at all about their investment in our lake?

    Lakeviewer is right. It's time for local residents and politicians to become involved. Does anyone know how to get on a mailing, notification list for these meetings?

  • LakeViewer posted at 4:47 pm on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    Another thing that should be done before any "tinkering" is an economic impact study. Has that been done? No, they are shooting from the hip would be my guess.

  • LakeViewer posted at 3:36 pm on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    I have an idea for a new management model for the lake water level. The lake should be allowed to fill after the spring runoff. It would stay full throughout the winter. In April, prior to the runoff, it would be lowered to accommodate flood control. It would fill during runoff, and stay full again until the next April.

    During the full months, the amount of water into the system would equal the amount of water released from the system. This would mimic a natural flow before the dam was installed. Downstream users would see a similar pattern as before the dam. The only reason to keep lowering and raising the lake is to accommodate power generation. Maybe it is time to change that and make a full lake the priority.

    It seems logical to me. No more experimentation with questionable ideas. Experiments are just a trial balloon to condition you and me to accept the unacceptable.

    It is time that we, the primary users and those that sacrificed their land, get into the drivers seat.

  • LakeViewer posted at 3:08 pm on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    Along with the other promises made by the Corps when the dam was put in, the system was to accommodate recreational uses. That is why the parks were established that are run by the feds. Seems this must have been documented somewhere, probably in the congressional record at the time of approval. All these records should be available from the Army Corps for review. i am sure the current overseers in the Corp haven't a clue what the guidelines, established in the 50's, are.

    The pols should get involved as Idahome mentions, and do something.

  • wilson posted at 2:20 pm on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    It seems everyone has discussed this except the landowners. Funny how that happens. Mr. Lawrence should be fired. Whose behind is he kissing?

  • lakeguy posted at 10:40 am on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    lakeguy Posts: 1

    the primary problem is the vast majority of the river below the dam in Washington has since 1980 been overrun with Eurasian Milfoil. All of the littoral areas are slammed shut with this weed. Milfoil beds absorb light all summer and convert it to heat, just like wearing a black shirt out on a sunny day. Water temperatures in these littoral areas are often 20 degrees warmer that open water. Putting more cooler water down stream won't help deal with this problem, it will just be warmed up like it is now. Restoring the areas of the lake damaged by milfoil has to be done or you won't see any change in water teperature no matter how much you impact Lake Pend Oreille users.

  • Bobcat posted at 9:05 am on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    Bobcat Posts: 1

    65 years ago the Corps purchased, for a pittance, easements from the Lake Pend Oreille land owners to take substantial amounts of their shoreline in order to provide a viable reservoir for the Albeni Falls Dam. The promise was to provide a controlled lake level and flood control for landowners and the public downstream of the dam. The Corps further benefited by the power the dam would produce and they would sell. Now the benfactors of this transaction, the Corps and the downstream landowners, including the tribe, want to renege on the deal and screw the lake property owners whose shorelines they stole. Let's go back to square one. Tear the dam out, let the downstream lands flood, run the naturally warm water down the river, and let the Corps find their funding somewhere else. I'll get my shoreline back, tear down my fixed dock, and put in a floating dock that will give me year round access.

  • Idahome posted at 7:42 am on Sat, Apr 27, 2013.

    Idahome Posts: 218

    Time for our elected officials to weigh in on this. Raul Labrador, what say you? Crapo? Risch? Closer to home, Kelly? Nielson? Bailey? Any of you stepping in to support the constituents who will be negatively impacted by what the ACOE and Kalispels are discussing?

  • wilson posted at 8:39 pm on Fri, Apr 26, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1184

    This is unbelievable - Corps parasites in Seattle and an Indian tribe who still has not forgiven the White Man for coming to America trying to figure out how to destroy what little we have left in Lake Pend Oreille- Get rid of the Corps employees who dream up this stuff and tell the Kalispells to get a life- Lakeviewer is correct -

  • LakeViewer posted at 7:55 pm on Fri, Apr 26, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 936

    Interesting that this issue seems to be of little interest. This will have a huge impact on the tourist economy and local's use of the lake. That is about all that remains here. Outside interests will control our lake unless the sleepy locals here become involved. Wake up, folks!

  • Howzat posted at 3:07 pm on Fri, Apr 26, 2013.

    Howzat Posts: 430

    so, just thinking out loud here, what happens to all the water front places with fixed docks if the brainiacs take the lake down in August?