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Operators at Zosel Dam are slowly increasing the water level of Lake Osoyoos from winter to spring operating elevations to manage snowmelt. The lake will gradually gain about two feet between now and early May.
Residents on the lake, which straddles the U.S. and Canadian border near Oroville, may notice some fluctuations during that time period. Operations in Canada impact flows up or down as well. Adjustments are made regularly at Zosel to account for those temporary changes in flows.
In addition, snow melt may cause the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers to rise, causing a “back up” that raises the level of Lake Osoyoos sharply.
“These spring runoff events are to be expected and they don’t usually last too long,” explained Al Josephy, with the Washington Department of Ecology, which operates Zosel Dam. “During these periods the gates at the dam are kept wide open and the river and lake react based on the natural flow of the river”
Osoyoos Lake levels are mandated by the International Joint Commission, a board made up of representatives from the U.S. and Canada. More information on the International Osoyoos Lake Board of Control and the new Order of Approval can be found at http://ijc.org/boards/iolbc/.
To track the progress of lake levels in “real-time,” as well as find additional information, go to the U.S. Geological Survey web page for Osoyoos Lake.