Chelan County PUD is asking the public to be aware of high and fast water flow in area rivers this weekend. 

Temperatures will be much higher than normal, which will contribute to a quicker pace of snowmelt into waterways. 

PUD spokesperson Rachel Hansen says boaters on the Columbia River need to be especially careful. 

"The thing with spring runoff, boating on the Columbia River is a lot different than boating on lakes where conditions might be more stable," said Hansen. 

Boaters are being advised to look out for logs and other debris in the Columbia River, and to stay at least 400 feet away from dams. 

Chelan PUD has an app that tracks the latest river conditions. Boaters on the Columbia River are advised to check the app every 20-30 minutes as conditions may change quickly. 

The app also offers lake conditions, including Lake Chelan water levels and boat launch water depth. 

In addition, Hansen says there's concern about people venturing into the Chelan River Gorge, where conditions will be dangerous. 

“There’s a potential there for entrapment if you go down into the gorge, and the water level changes” Hansen said. “You might not be able to get out. And the thing with that area is its very limited cell phone service, and it requires a pretty difficult rescue to get folks out.” 

Photos taken by Neil Neroutsos within the Chelan Gorge, by the Chelan River and bridge by the highway
Photos taken by Neil Neroutsos within the Chelan Gorge, by the Chelan River and bridge by the highway

There are 97 “no trespassing” signs around the Chelan River Gorge, which is closed to the public. An exception is made during one weekend every year in September when expert kayakers are allowed to navigate the rapids of the gorge. 

The PUD is suggesting people recreate at the 17 parks it operates near rivers this weekend. 

The utility is charged with owning and managing the parks in its federal licenses to operate three dams. The licenses obligate the PUD to offer recreation options for the public. 

Chelan PUD’s April 1 water supply forecast estimates there to be about 18 feet of water that will melt from Snowpack in the Lake Chelan Basin. At present there's about 7 feet of room in the lake. Any excess water will run through Lake Chelan dam for power generation or be spilled into the Chelan River. 

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