Department of Ecology News Release - May 25, 2017

Summer of high water expected along Okanogan River

Snowmelt runoff will impact lake and riverside communities

Water from Lake Osoyoos is flowing over the Zosel Dam weir near Oroville. Watch for high flows down the Okanogan River.

Communities along the Okanogan River from Oroville to Brewster are likely to experience high water along the shoreline through the summer and into September, due to greater-than-normal snowmelt from watersheds in Canada.

“Property owners with low-lying lawns and fields and folks who recreate in the river should take heed and prepare for the highest river levels we’ve seen in 20 years,” said Al Josephy with the Washington Department of Ecology’s water resources program. “Flows could be two or three times greater than what we usually experience in the summer months.”

Unusually high snowpack in British Columbia is resulting in volumes of runoff not seen since 1997. This is putting tremendous pressure on Canadian water managers to maintain optimal levels in the Okanagan system of lakes and reservoirs this summer.

Lake Osoyoos will likely remain above normal operating levels for much of the summer, Josephy said. This may mean periods of flooding along lake properties and further downstream because of extreme flows expected this summer. Gates at Zosel Dam will remain open as much as possible to relieve water backed up in the system.

Water managers will work all summer to try and steady water levels at Lake Osoyoos and bring them within normal parameters. The lake straddles the United States and Canada at Oroville and hosts summer homes, recreational activities, and supplies irrigation water on both sides of the border.

Lake Osoyoos water levels are mandated by the International Joint Commission, a board made up of representatives from the U.S. and Canada. More information is available on the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control web page. Residents can also follow operations at our Zosel Dam website.

For hydraulic permitting information on work needed within water in response to flooding, please consult the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Contact information

Joye Redfield-Wilder
Communications manager