International Joint Commission Considers Dropping Water Levels On BC's Lake Osoyoos

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is inviting the public to comment on potential changes to regulations to minimum water levels on Lake Osoyoos, an international waterbody shared by British Columbia and the State of Washington.

Water levels of Lake Osooyos have been regulated by the IJC since 1946. The current international water level agreement expires on February 22, 2013 and the IJC is seeking public comment on water level management prior to renewal.

Water levels on Osoyoos Lake are controlled by the Zosel Dam, downstream of the lake and owned by the State of Washington. Environmentalists and fisheries biologists in both Washington and BC have called for an increase in the volume of water released from this dam in order to protect dwindling populations of  sockeye salmon. "Instream fisheries flow requirements downstream from Zosel Dam account for nearly 90 percent of the total water demand from Osoyoos Lake and on numerous occasions these flow requirements have not been met,' reads one study submitted to the IJC. "Discharge, and not lake level, is the most important criteria for maintaining healthy salmonid populations.' The study notes that the only way to maintain acceptable water flows for salmon would require dropping water levels on Lake Osoyoos below current minimums.

Click here to download a 53-page report on the proposed changes, as outlined by the IJC.

Industry stakeholders with an interest in maintaining water levels at current standards are encouraged to attend a public meeting hosted by the IJC will be held on July 25, 2012 at the Best Western Plus Sunrise Inn, 5506 Main Street, Osoyoos, BC beginning at 7:00 pm. Comments may also be submitted until August 31, 2012 by mail or by email:

Canadian Section Secretary
International Joint Commission
234 Laurier Avenue West
22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K6
Fax: 613-993-5583