Arrow Lakes Reservoir
Special Advisory: Low Arrow Lakes Reservoir Water Levels
As of Tuesday, January 10, Arrow Lakes Reservoir is at 423.9 metres (1,391 feet) and is expected to continue to draft to reach a minimum of 423.6 metres (1,389.9 feet) by January 27, 2023. While these levels are within the normal operating range, they are lower than normal for this time of year. The last time the reservoir reached these levels was in 2015, and before that in 2001.
The current low levels are due to persistent dry conditions across the Columbia Basin. Lower than average levels are associated with Columbia River Treaty obligations during "dry years." Under dry conditions more water is released from Canadian storage according to the terms of the Columbia River Treaty.
BC Hydro has already implemented measures including increasing generation on the Columbia system which will help to maintain Arrow Lakes Reservoir levels. After Arrow Lakes Reservoir reaches its expected minimum elevation at the end of January, we anticipate that the reservoir will start to refill and will reach approximately 426.7 metres (1,400 feet) by the end of February.
The normal minimum and maximum water licence levels for Arrow Lakes Reservoir are 420 metres (1,378 feet) and 440.1 metres (1,444 feet). This is the full range of Arrow Reservoir storage required under the Columbia River Treaty (7.1 million acre feet). Levels up to 440.7 metres (1,446 feet) may be required for flood risk management in Canada and the United States.
Please note that this forecast is subject to change based on a number of factors, including weather, load requirements, inflows, and other variables. Updated information is provided via email every Friday and is also available by calling our toll-free information line at 1-877-924-2444. To subscribe to our weekly updates, please email email@example.com.
230-kilometre-long reservoir is a boating playground
In the valley between the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges is the Arrow Lakes reservoir. A great waterway for boating, it runs 230 kilometres from near Revelstoke in the north, to Castlegar in the south.
The reservoir was created when the Hugh Keenleyside Dam was constructed to bound the original Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River.
Arrow Lakes Reservoir is located on the traditional territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc.
Where it is, and things to do
Fuel & boat launch services
Boat fuel is available at Syringa Marina, Scotties Marina, Edgewood, Needles and the Village of Nakusp.
Boat launching facilities exist at Syringa Park Marina, Scotties Marina, Syringa Creek Provincial Park, McDonald Creek, Shelter Bay, Edgewood Park, Fauquier Park, Burton Historical Park, Eagle Bay, Nakusp and Centennial Park. However, some facilities are not useable or accessible when the Arrow Lakes Reservoir reaches low elevations.
Canadian Hydrographic Service navigation maps for the Arrow Lakes Reservoir are available at authorized dealers across Canada.
Safe anchorage options
In addition to amenities generally found at or near communities, boaters can find refuge or sheltered anchorage at various locations around the reservoir. Accessibility and the degree of protection at each location varies depending on the time of year, reservoir level, direction of prevailing wind and general weather conditions.
At some locations, small craft can be beached, but boaters are reminded to: be careful with open fires; remove their litter, and; respect private upland property.
Hugh Keenleyside Dam navigational lock
The Hugh Keenleyside Dam navigational lock is available for all properly equipped watercraft. There is no charge for use of the lock; however, weekday passage may be delayed because of the need to pass commercial traffic and logs downstream of the dam. Commercial traffic will have priority in all cases over pleasure craft.
Regular hours of operation for the Navigational Lock are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., seven days a week, and this service is available at no charge for all properly equipped watercraft. Please note that the last lock cycle begins at 3:30 p.m. The lockkeeper is available at 250 304 1003.
A number of recreation areas and facilities are located along the shoreline of Arrow Lakes Reservoir. These are managed by BC Parks, Ministry of Forests or the local municipal government.
Get information on Syringa Creek Provincial Park, Blanket Creek Provincial Park, McDonald Creek Provincial Park, and Shelter Bay Provincial Park. Other parks include Edgewood Park, Fauquier Park, Burton Historical Park, Taite Creek Recreation Site, Octopus Creek Recreation Site, Sunshine Bay Recreation Site, Bowman Point Recreation Site, Begbie Falls Recreation Site, Akolkolex Falls Recreation Site, Eagle Bay Recreation Site, Nakusp municipal campground, and Centennial Park.
Some Ministry of Forests recreation sites are fully maintained with user fees, while others are user-maintained with no fees.
Boating & other safety information
Reservoir operations combined with the topography of the reservoir create hazards that are unique to man-made water bodies.
Take care, as water levels can change over 24 hours
Water levels within the reservoir fluctuate by as much as 20 metres annually and are constantly changing due to inflow and the requirements for water release at Hugh Keenleyside Dam. Reservoir levels can rise or fall by approximately 30 cm in a 24-hour period at any time of the year.
Boaters are cautioned that when the reservoir is not at its maximum level, bars, rocks or debris, including stumps, may lie just below the surface. Boaters should also be aware of strong winds that occur suddenly, causing high waves and strong currents.
Please exercise caution when anchoring larger boats near the shoreline in shallower water; a drop in the reservoir level could leave you high and dry. Generally, water levels will tend to drop in the fall and winter, and rise during the spring and early summer.
Boaters using the reservoir in late summer, fall and winter should be particularly alert to the risk of being stranded by decreasing water levels.
Take extra care south of Revelstoke
The area south of Revelstoke is critical. The original channel cuts through a wide, flat river bottom for 48 km south of Revelstoke. The area on both sides of the channel is covered by only 0.6 to 1.8 metres of water, even when the reservoir is at its highest.
Boaters are cautioned to keep to deep water in this area. Slow down, and watch for shoals and log bundles. Don’t leave your boat unattended in this area.
Currents can be strong near Keenleyside, Revelstoke Dams
Dam intakes at the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, and outlets from the Revelstoke Dam, can cause strong surface and underwater currents. For your own safety and the safety of others, obey all posted signs and remain well away from BC Hydro dams and operating structures.
Sudden releases of water may occur downstream from Revelstoke Dam. Discharged water levels may be high and extremely dangerous for boaters in the immediate area.
While BC Hydro does not allow debris to pass through its dams, boaters should always be alert for floating debris, submerged debris and shoals at different reservoir levels.
Know safe boating rules
If you are intending to operate a boat on Arrow Lakes Reservoir, always:
- Take care not to drink and drive or drive a boat
- Ensure that you have an accurate map
- Carry emergency and safety equipment, extra shear pins and a propeller
- Ensure familiarity with any marked channel and reservoir hazards
- Inform others of your destination and when you are to return
- Check the weather
- Know where the nearest safe moorage/anchorage or beach is at all times
- Refer to the Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide.
Three daily elevation gauges are available for the Arrow Lakes Reservoir: Nakusp, Fauquier, and Hugh Keenleyside Dam (Arrow Dam Forebay). Check daily reservoir elevations.
The Arrow Lakes Reservoir elevation at Fauquier is also available by calling 1 877 924 2444 from anywhere in North America. The toll free line is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, except holidays.
Weekly reservoir updates are available via email for the upper and lower Columbia with short-term reservoir level forecasts. To subscribe, please send us an email.
Columbia operations summaries explaining the Columbia River Treaty and other agreements, system and facility operations, and reservoir water level information are distributed bi-annually. To subscribe, please send us an email.
Regional annual reports are distributed every fall to local government, the media and stakeholders. These reports are available in our regional contacts section.