Zosel Dam is the only dam we own and operate. The dam's primary purpose is to maintain lake levels on Osoyoos Lake, which is on the boundary of the United States and Canada near Oroville. Lake levels are mandated by the International Joint Commission, a board made up of representatives from the U.S. and Canada.
The lake hosts summer homes, recreational activities, and supplies irrigation water on both sides of the border.
Winter has come to the Okanogan Valley and things have slowed down across the region. After an exciting summer, the rivers in the region have gone back to their usual levels. Crops are all in and the fish have passed and left next year’s offspring safely tucked into the gravels and still waters along the rivers and lakes. Lake Osoyoos has now reached its winter operating level at approximately 909.5 feet, where dam operators at Zosel Dam will keep it until the end of February. The lake level is kept at this level through the cold weather to guard against shore damage and erosion from winter storms. Once the winter has passed, by March, operators will slowly fill the lake to summer levels, as they do every year. Dam operators will be watching snow levels through the winter as they develop plans for summer 2018.
To track the progress of lake levels in real time, as well as find additional information, visit the USGS web page for Osoyoos Lake.
Osoyoos Lake has declined to a level below what we normally see at this time of the year. Flows at Zosel Dam have been managed to keep just enough water available for late-season irrigation and fish. Managers at Zosel Dam will work to stabilize the lake, while keeping enough of a flow in the Okanogan, keeping fish spawning grounds hydrated.
Our usual target elevation for winter operations is 909.5. We intend to manage to that level as usual.
A River Film
We, along with Okanagan Basin Water Board and other partners, recently completed a two year film project about the communities surrounding Lake Osoyoos. A River Film is a documentary of life in the Okanogan Basin on both sides of the border. The film shows cooperation and collaboration among various interests that must share a limited resource in an arid environment. The 40-minute film debuted at the International Board of Control for Lake Osoyoos annual meeting on Oct. 17. Additional screenings can be found on the International Oysoyoos Lake Board of Control website.