IJC seeks public comments Lake Osoyoos levels

OROVILLE/OSOYOOS - The International Joint Commission is seeking comments from the public regarding the regulation of water levels of Lake...

Constructed in 1987, Zosel Dam replaced a wooden structure that served Zosel's Sawmill. The current dam is used to control water levels on Lake Osoyoos under the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District as authorized by the state Department of Ecology. The w

Constructed in 1987, Zosel Dam replaced a wooden structure that served Zosel’s Sawmill. The current dam is used to control water levels on Lake Osoyoos under the Oroville-Tonasket Irrigation District as authorized by the state Department of Ecology. The w

OROVILLE/OSOYOOS – The International Joint Commission is seeking comments from the public regarding the regulation of water levels of Lake Osoyoos at meetings planned in Oroville and Osoyoos, B.C.

The first of these public meetings will be held on Tuesday, July 24, at the Oroville High School Commons, 1008 Ironwood St., at 7 p.m. The second public meeting will be on Wednesday, July 25 at the Best Western Plus Sunrise Inn at 5506 Main Street, Osoyoos, at 7 p.m.

Since 1946 the commission has regulated water levels in the lake under the Lake Osoyoos Order which provides for the regulation of water levels for the benefit of agriculture, tourism, municipal interests and fishery protection. In 1946 the commission approved alterations to the old wooden Zosel Dam which was downstream from the lake. In 1987, under orders of the IJC the new Zosel Dam was constructed to replace the old dam. The orders set maximum and minimum lake elevations of 911.5 and 909 feet during normal years. During a drought year, water may be stored to lake elevation as high as 913.0 feet.

The current Orders of Approval for Lake Osoyoos are set to expire on Feb. 22, 2013, unless renewed. The commission asked its International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control to present a report of recommendations for renewing the Osoyoos Lake Orders. Drawing on the results of eight studies commissioned by IJC, the board recommends that the scope of a renewed Order remain limited to the management of lake levels with only minor modifications that are primarily related to a revised lake-level rule curve (i.e. prescribed lake water level elevation limits over time per an IJC Order). The board also recommends that the Commission should encourage the continued cooperation between British Columbia and the State of Washington to balance flow needs across the International Border and downstream of the dam, while respecting goals for Osoyoos Lake elevations and limits on releases that are possible from Okanagan Lake in southern British Columbia.

The Board recommends a public review of a proposed rule curve. The proposed rule curve would provide additional seasonal flexibility in achieving targeted lake levels, and would accommodate multiple uses and users of the lake. The proposed rule curve would also eliminate drought/non-drought declarations and would limit the maximum lake levels to 912.5 feet in the summer. More detailed discussion of the proposed rule curve and the Board’s recommendations on renewal of the Order are contained in the Board’s Report entitled Recommendations for Renewal of the International Joint Commission’s Osoyoos Lake Order now posted on the IJC website at www.ijc.org.

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