Shuswap Lake levels have peaked for the year and water levels are beginning to drop. -Image credit: File photo

Shuswap Lake peaks below 2012 levels

Shuswap Lake Watch’s measurements notes the lake peaked at 349.072 metres on June 10

The good news is freshet is finished for another year.

The bad news is, there will be substantial clean-up ahead as the water recedes.

Bernhard Kramer’s popular Shuswap Lake Watch notes the lake peaked at 349.072 metres on June 10, not far off the 2012 peak of 349.660 when melt of mid- and high-level snow combined with rain caused massive flooding in the Shuswap.

Snow is lingering at the higher elevations, but no longer a factor in this year’s freshet, says David Campbell, head of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ River Forecast Centre.

As of Monday afternoon, the water in Shuswap lake had dropped 30 centimetres over the course of a week and snow pillows at Park Mountain and Celista were down by about two-thirds and 90 percent respectively, said Campbell.

“It’s dropping about five cm a day, the same as the Thompson River,” he says, noting water levels in the Eagle, Adams and Shuswap rivers are all dropping as well.

he says 15 mm of rain that fell in the Shuswap last week did not have much effect on the lake, another indication that, barring severe weather, freshet is finished for the year.

Kramer, who measures lake levels by the Sicamous railway bridge 24-seven throughout the year, agrees.

“It dropped too much to get this far up again,” he says of the peak, pointing out that in terms of high-altitude snow, the temperatures most days have barely been above freezing.

“There’s two to three hours when it gets to 10 C and the rest of the day it’s fairly low – 4 C and 6 C in the higher mountains,” Kramer says, noting he has tried , more than once in his 22 years of monitoring the lake, to give it up. “It’s a pain sometimes and I’m getting tired. In the fall, I actually thought of closing the site down but anytime I mention that on the website, I getso many emails saying ‘we need you.’”

Kramer would like to see automatic monitoring installed in the lake, something Fisheries and Ministry of Environment support, but the budget always gets in the way, he says.

Meanwhile, as water recedes and clean-up is effected, popular sites will re-open.

“Yes, the lake is receding, for public safety reasons, we are waiting until the water drops below the first concrete wall and the stairs are visible,” says Rob Niewenhuizen, City of Salmon Arm director of Engineering and Public Works, of Canoe Beach where Canada Day festivities are planned. “The high-water brought in a substantial amount of logs and debris which also has to be cleaned up prior to opening the beach.”

Niewenhuizen says a rapattack crew was at the beach Friday and cut up some of the larger logs and the city staff are planning to work on the cleanup this week, with a goal to have the beach re-opened by the weekend.

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