Recently, a hydrologist from Washington state was featured in a Spokesman-Review story about water. It seems this guy suddenly became aware of the vast amount of water entrapped in Lake Pend Oreille. At it's deepest, between Cape Horn and Lakeview, the lake is officially 1150 feet deep. In the north end of course, it is much shallower. The principle source of water for the lake is the Clark Fork River, which flows down from central Montana at the continental divide. The Clark Fork enters Lake Pend Oreille near the north end. The Pack river also joins nearby. These river deltas keep the depths very shallow all across the north end of this fifty plus mile long lake.
The aforementioned Washington hydrologist wants to pipe water from Lake Pend Oreille into the Rathrum aquifer, so as to help low summer flows. Alas, you'd think they were Californians, lusting after the Columbia River. What makes this so bazaar is that the beginning of the aquifer is in the south end of Lake Pend Oreille already. Without Lake pend Oreille feeding Hayden Lake and Lake Coeur d'alene, there would be no Spokane river, just a creek, nor an aquifer to fight over.
To illustrate why this is such a lame idea, the picture shown above is the lake at the current winter level, eleven feet below summer pool. You see, other government entities are already stealing our water. Albeni Dam, situated at Priest River and the Pend Oreille River control the level of the lake. This control is shared between the US corps of Engineers, Avista and Bonneville Power.
This reminds me of the joke they used to tell at Silverwood. Train robber: "We're going to rob the train." conductor: "You can't rob this train." "Why not, sez the robber." conductor: Because they were already robbed at the gate!" This, while funny, illustrates that when someone has already robbed the bank, it is generally useless to come in right afterward and rob it again. This would apply to Lake Pend Oreille, as it's waters have already been stolen, thank you very much!
Photo by Taryn Hecker Thonpson.
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