An Explanation about Yukon Energy and Water Levels

Energy Supply

Jul 11, 2012  Comment

We noticed a Letter to the Editor in the local papers this week that said levels in the Yukon River were very low in early June because Yukon Energy wasn't releasing any water over the Whitehorse spillway. The letter suggested if we'd released water earlier, the river wouldn't be at the high level it is now.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we are allowed to operate.

We have a water license that says as of May 15th each year, we must open all our spillgates at the Marsh Lake Control Structure. We are not able to hold any water back after that date. We are not permitted to close any gates until at least August 15th, or until water levels on Marsh Lake drop to what is known as Full Supply Level (656.234 metres above sea level).

What this means is that the amount of water flowing from the Southern Lakes to the Yukon River is solely dependent on Mother Nature. We can't hold water back in the summer nor do we have any ability to move it more quickly through the system, so can't relieve any high water situations.

We've had a cool spring this year, which is why water levels in early June were lower than normal. But once the higher than usual snowpack from the winter started to melt, water levels shot up quickly, and now they appear quite high.

A final note about our Whitehorse dam: we only spill water if we have more than we need to produce electricity. We weren't spilling any early this spring because there wasn't any excess...we needed every drop for power production. Now, with much more water moving through the system, you will notice us spilling water at times.

We hope this helps clear up any confusion. We always welcome your questions; if you're not sure of something, please ask us. Thanks.


Be the first to comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.