The weather this year has been notably different from past years. While last year we were faced with an unprecedented heat dome and lack of rain, this year we’re facing lower-than-average temperatures and higher-than-average precipitation.
As you look out your window and watch the raindrops pepper the lake yet again, you may be asking yourself if the higher water level will affect your boat lift and dock. To help you prepare for a potential high-water event and protect your boat lift and dock, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know about Okanagan Lake water levels.
What are lake levels and why does Shoreline Pile Driving monitor them?
The water level of Okanagan Lake fluctuates for a variety of reasons, and this can cause concern for lakefront homeowners with fixed and floating dock systems. When the Okanagan Water Basin fills up too quickly due to increased precipitation or quickly melting snowpack, the water can’t leave fast enough, and that’s when we experience high-water and flooding events.
Not only do we love Okanagan Lake, but at Shoreline, we work on it too. And with such a vested interest in the lake, it only makes sense that we pride ourselves on being lake experts. To make sure we know everything there is to know about the lake, we measure the water levels every day so we can keep an eye on trends and alert our clients to any potential problems.
To keep our clients informed, we created a page dedicated exclusively to real-time water levels. You can stay up to date and see it here: Okanagan Lake Water Levels .
Here are some important definitions to keep in mind while viewing the current water levels page:
- LWM = Low water mark
- HWM = High water mark
- PNB = Present natural boundary
- Full pool = 342.48 metres
- Foreshore = land between low water mark (LWM) and high water mark (HWM)
You can follow our Instagram account (@shorelinepiledriving) for daily water level updates!
When Okanagan lake water levels are at each side of the extremes, we’ll keep you updated through stories and posts so you can make the most informed decision for your dock and boat lift.
Where does all the water in Okanagan lake come from?
Most of the water in the lake is stationary and sits there year-round; however, about 25 percent of the water in the lake fluctuates based on exterior conditions. This water comes from Mission Creek, which is sourced by the Graystoke Mountain Range. The peak of this water flow typically occurs during the spring snowmelt period and during periods of prolonged precipitation when Okanagan Lake water levels are at their highest.
Who controls the lake levels?
The lake levels are managed by the BC Government through a series of dams and other structures located on Okanagan Lake and other bodies of water throughout the Okanagan valley. However, more needs to be done to keep the water levels stable.
In 2017, the lake experienced the worst flooding event on record. Then in 2021, the lake reached its lowest level in written history. The Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Government of BC are currently working together to come up with a plan for managing the water levels.
How can you protect your boat lift and dock?
Lakefront property owners need to respond accordingly when lake levels are extremely responsive to rain levels and sudden temperature shifts.
Please follow these helpful tips when preparing for a potential flooding event:
- If your dock is older and constructed with timber frame and wood piles, we recommend placing weight over the pile locations and cross caps. It’s important that you don’t overload your dock with too much weight, so if you’re unsure about how much weight to apply, please reach out
- If you decide to take your boat out on the water, please keep your distance from the shoreline. Your boat wake can cause significant damage to other docks and lakefront properties
- While on the water, keep an eye out for floating debris
- If you own a four-post boat lift, we recommend lowering the cradle to the lakebed to avoid damage caused by waves
- If you own a Shoreline single-mast boat lift, please raise the cradle as high as it can go
- If you own a piling boat lift, it is extremely stable and will likely survive high-water events, but we still remind you to keep an eye on it until water levels return to normal