Idaho Department of Water Resources officials are saying it is likely the drawdown of Priest Lake will begin Oct. 1 this year. Historically the drawdown has occurred on the first Sunday in October — this year, that date is Oct. 6.
“IDWR sent out a low flow/low precipitation notice toward the end of August that may have to do with this decision,” Lakes Commission Executive Director Molly McCahon said in an email to the Daily Bee. “This year they plan to release the water slower than in years past but aim to be at zero on the gauge by the end of October.”
IDWR posted on its website that last week’s Priest Lake water surface level shows that the lake level is holding steady, with lake level gaging readings ranging between 3.05 and 3.07.
“The current lake level is in compliance with the statutory minimum lake level of 3.0 at the USGS lake level gage,” the department notes on the site. “However, discharge flows downstream of the dam have decreased to approximately 32 cfs.”
Current low flows in Priest River are similar to river flows seen in 2015 river flows, with precipitation appearing to be unlikely within the next two weeks.