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Penticton dam manager believes Okanagan Lake has peaked

It’s been two weeks since Okanagan Lake surpassed full pool and it has since gone up to 15 centimetres over that mark of 342.48 metres.

However, there have been a couple of days where the lake has decreased this week and while the situation is fluid, Penticton dam manager Shaun Reimer believes the lake has peaked.

“I’m seeing some signs even today that Okanagan may have actually started to drop,” Reimer told NowMedia on Wednesday.

“(It’s) tough to tell because it’s such a fluid measurement affected by wind and wave action. After a few days, we’ll get a better sense of it.”

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia

Reimer added that it makes sense because we are starting to see the tributaries falling off as the higher elevation snowpack disappears.

The lake is currently around 13 centimetres above full pool and how fast that number drops in the coming days will greatly depend on how much precipitation the Okanagan gets.

“A lot of the creeks and lakes remain high (and) that makes us a little vulnerable to significant rain events,” explained Reimer.

But he noted that after a wet spring, it has been a fair bit drier in recent days and the forecast does not call for any significant rain in the near future.

However, the forecast has been wrong before, as we saw first hand on June 14 when the Okanagan was hit by heavy rain that caused localized flooding.

<who>Photo Credit: RDCO

“We weren't really expecting it. We didn't expect to see some of the creeks rise the way they did,” Reimer said.

“It was sort of a low probability that that weather system was going to hit us, but of course, that probability still existed and it happened.”

The weather event forced Reimer to be much more aggressive in outflows at the Penticton dam, but there was only so much he could do.

“Unfortunately, when we do get that kind of precipitation…the inflows into the lake are just a lot larger than the outflows we can possibly send down south in the Okanagan River through to Osoyoos Lake,” he noted.

High outflows will continue to be Reimer’s strategy until he can bring things back down into the “operating range” for Okanagan Lake.

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