The Labor Day weekend also marks the beginning of higher flows in the Spokane River as Avista begins drawing down Lake Coeur d'Alene.
The sun's still strong, the water's warm and clear but Labor Day always seem to signal the end of the summer boating season.
“I don't think people understand quite how nice it is out here through the month of September but when that water starts drawing down people start thinking uh-oh, we're not going to have any water. we need to get the boat out,” Templin's marina manager Angie Bordwell said.
However there really shouldn't be a rush to the boat ramp. This time last year a low snowpack had already forced Avista to draw down the lake 13 inches to it could keep the falls flowing in downtown Spokane. This summer the lake's only down five inches.
“Docks are starting to shift, and even gassing up people you can feel the shift in where it's going down, so it's definitely going down [but] not nearly as bad as last year. Last year was pretty drastic, pretty fast,” Bordwell said.
Right now just 700 cubic feet of water is flowing down the Spokane River every second, but there would be even less water in the river without the Post Falls Dam. If there was no dam to help regulate water levels Lake Coeur d'Alene would continue to drain into the Spokane River.
The big side effect of the dam for the Inland Northwest during the summertime is all of the activities you can enjoy both up and downstream from the Post Falls Dam, thanks to its regulation of the amount of water being kept in the lake and flowing down into the Spokane River.
This year, for example, was the first time paddlers were able to use their boards in the slack water near Riverfront Park. This summer 1,800 people rented paddle boards from Tara and Keith Quinn with Fun Unlimited down on the Spokane River, leading to a short but successful season.
“The river going through Spokane, I mean, it's a fantastic resource and we need to use it,” Keith Quinn said.
Now, with the draw down of the lake upstream the current of the Spokane River downstream from the dam will once again be moving too fast for people to be in the water.
Avista's license requires the utility to draw down the lake to its winter elevation by December 31. By the time that happens, more than 13 billion gallons of water will have spilled over the falls or through the dam power houses.