Chelan Gorge Releases Canceled for July 10 and 11

posted July 6, 2010
by Thomas O'Keefe

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After consulting with American Whitewater, Chelan PUD has made the decision to cancel the planned whitewater boating opportunities on the Chelan Gorge this weekend (July 10 and 11). Providing this opportunity requires a balancing act between lake level, spill and whitewater boating and unfortunately, at this time the PUD is not able to accommodate all three. The reasons for canceling this weekend's release are as follows:

* The elevation of Lake Chelan is currently 1098.4 feet, approximately 5 inches above the July 1 target elevation of 1098 feet.  Maximum license elevation is 1100 feet.
* It has been a cooler and wetter than average spring, likely resulting in a later than average runoff.
* Almost 50% of the high elevation snowpack remains (26 inches Snow Water Equivalent at Lyman Lake), and is currently 280% of average for this time of year.
* Temperatures are forecast to warm into the mid 90's 7-10 days out.
* If snowpack melts quickly, inflows will likely exceed turbine capacity and desired spill rates.
* Spill needs to be decreased slowly during daylight hours to allow fish to move from potential stranding areas in Reaches 1-4 of the Chelan River.  This requires spill to be reduced two to three days earlier than scheduled Saturday and Sunday white water boating days. Limiting spill for 4-5 days restricts the ability to manage lake elevations and provide flood control.
* This year, Lake Chelan would need to be held to a lower elevation across the fourth of July weekend if White Water Boating occurred July 10-11.

Boaters should know that AW is actively engaged with Chelan PUD to document the reasons for canceling this weekend's release and we will work together to determine the best means of providing the opportunities we agreed to. As part of this effort we are working collaboratively on a three year study to evaluate whitewater recreation in the Chelan Gorge that will culminate in filing of a report to federal regulators. If providing a whitewater releases in early July appears likely to conflict with project operations and hydrology of the system, we will explore other alternatives including possibly a release in August. We encourage boaters to come out for the scheduled releases on July 24 and 25. By participating in the post-run survey you can provide additional feedback on the timing of releases that we will be able to use in considering alternatives for future years.

Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012