In the March 5 edition of the spokesman-Review, an article by Becky Kramer suggests that the State of Washington has the hots for Lake Pend Oreille water. Well, folks, get in line. Pipe dreams (pun intended) like this have over a period of many years have gone from Southern California wanting to transplant the Columbia River to Los Angeles, and now this. first, noted hydrologist, John Covert appears to need better sense. He's either uninformed or just another dreamer without a plan.
The State of Idaho doesn't really control the waters of Lake Pend Oreille. A combination of Avista and Bonneville power, with the U.S. Corps of Engineers thrown in control the water levels, both winter and summer. In some years, the differential between the seasons have been up to eleven feet, as in the fall, the lake is drawn down to very low levels, so that the Bonneville power system will have more water down stream in the Columbia river system of dams. It is important to remember that Lake Pend Oreille is a natural lake, albeit held at a higher level than nature intended,not a man-made reservoir, and as such is treated differently than the artificial ones.
Residents and communities surrounding the lake have fought with limited success to keep the lake levels within reasonable bounds. In the past, the draw-downs were willy-nilly, generally caused by electrical needs on the west coast. This caused massive fish kills, among the shore spawning kokanee, which spawn in late November. The Lake Pend Oreille club, as sports fishing group located in Sandpoint, sued several years ago, causing Bonneville Power and Avista to time the draw downs before the fish spawn. The settlement was greeted with mixed results, but at least a solution was reached, even though the flushing of the lake dramatically between Labor Day week-end, generally the start of the draw down, and before the mid-November spawning cycle begins. Mixed results have been experienced, since the millions of kokanee that once populated the lake and caused a commercial fishing season in the past, and created a sports fishery with hundreds flocking to the shore.
To suggest that another government entity will take more water, is ludicrous.Other than the fact that seems to have escaped the hydrologist, which is the eastern lobe of the aquifer begins in Buttonhook Bay, a part of the southern end of the lake. In other words, folks, they already have a pipeline out of our lake into the aquifer. Whats that old saying? "You can dress 'em up, but you can't take them anywhere."
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