The Lake Chelan Reserve consists of 65,000 acre-feet of water per year that is stored behind the Lake Chelan dam. This water is reserved for existing and future domestic and irrigation uses in the Lake Chelan water basin. As of October 2019, approximately 6,300 acre-feet per year remains available.
The Lake Chelan Hydroelectric Project, originally constructed by the Chelan Electric Company, is currently operated by Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County (Chelan PUD) under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Under state-issued 1925 water rights and a 1992 agreement with our agency, Chelan PUD holds the reservoir right to store water behind the Chelan dam. The 1992 agreement allows them to use the entire flow of the Chelan River for hydropower generation, except for 65,000 acre-feet per year (afy), which is reserved for existing and future domestic and irrigation uses in the Lake Chelan water basin. This 65,000 afy is frequently referred to as the Lake Chelan Reserve. In 1992, the agreement affirmed the 65,000-afy reserve for non-project purposes, and this was approved by FERC in 1993.
As of 2019, there are more than 150 applications on file for new surface or groundwater permits in the Lake Chelan water basin. In order to move forward on processing pending water right applications, Chelan PUD and our agency amended the agreement to clarify and streamline the regulatory process to allocate water rights from the reserve. In 2017, both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help accurately estimate the amount of water in the reserve available for allocation.