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Our Beginnings

Located in Sicamous, shuswaplakewatch.com (in the following referred as SLW) was founded in 1995 by Bernhard Kramer as a private research project to better understand and predict Shuswap Lake level changes during the annual spring snowmelt. Our first lake measurement station was located 3 km south of Sicamous on Mara Lake where lake levels were manually recorded twice a day. A few years later we moved our data station to the end of the Sicamous Channel where it still is located as of today. Lake levels, water temperatures, and local weather conditions are now recorded once every early evening and we have not missed a single day during the past 25+ years yet.

Right from start, shuswaplakewatch.com quickly became a popular source of information for local and seasonal lake residents, tourism related businesses, boaters, and lake visitors. Therefore, we decided to maintain this unique web service by gradually increasing the related information content.

Milestones and Growth

In late 1999 SLW released its first detailed Shuswap Lake runoff report based on our own lake level recordings for that year. This extensive report not only outlined which streams and mountain areas have the greatest impact on lake levels during the runoff but also how fast the lake reacts to weather changes and which rivers are the primary drivers for the lake peak and local flooding events. The report is still online and can be viewed here.

Thanks to the wonderful help of an army of volunteers SLW completed a "Shuswap Lake Use Research Project" during the 3 days of the August long weekend in 2010. Boating on Shuswap Lake has become increasingly popular and we wanted to put this peak season into numbers. All boats using the Shuswap Lake and Mara Lake have been counted, including the type of vessels, where boats came from and where they were heading, the number of passengers and age groups, and much more. This comprehensive report has been released in the fall of 2010 and is still available on this web site here. It was widely used by local seasonal businesses, communities, local infrastructure planners, various government agencies, and many more.

The Sicamous flash flood event during the 2012 flood season sure was a game changer. Our live pictures and online reporting quickly got picked up by newspapers and news stations all over North America and, within hours, led to such an onslaught of SLW web traffic which temporarily crashed our web hosting server. However, it was fixed quickly by adding multiple additional web servers and temporarily removing all bandwidth limits for the web site. For nearly a week the daily web site visits were in the millions, phone calls in the thousands, and e-mail inquiries in the hundreds. The aftermath wasn't less impressive, as bills for this adventure started to come in.

Nevertheless, after struggling through this tough period significant upgrades and changes have been implemented to be better prepared for such unforeseen events. Our web hosting is now running on dedicated high-end servers to easily handle high traffic volumes during peak periods. Furthermore, a sophisticated mirror server was set up in our home office, capable of sharing the web traffic load or injecting some web content during peak traffic periods as needed. To offset our ever increasing cost for providing uninterrupted, qualitative service we allowed unintrusive, limited advertising on the web site. It's still a drop in the bucket - but it sure helps and we are most grateful for the support we receive.

With the growing popularity for local winter sport activities, SLW started in late 2019 to offer some relevant winter information for sledders. While it's still a work in process, the added winter content is already frequently viewed. Web site visits in January 2021 have more than doubled from last year. As we continue to build up our winter content, those numbers are sure to increase in the future.

Our advertising performance counters for the year of 2020 have reached a total of 33,804,918 banner imprints on shuswaplakewatch.com. This calculates to an average of 92,363 per day, 3,848 per hour, or 64 views per minute; an all-time record for our web site. If you like more public exposure for your business, shuswaplakewatch.com is certainly a strong and effective advertising platform to be considered.

Where we are today

In addition to our own Shuswap Lake water level readings and weather information we also monitor and obtain a large number of other records from publicly accessible government sources on a daily basis which includes:
    • lake level information from Sugar Lake, Adams Lake, and Shuswap Lake near Salmon Arm
    • river levels, water flow, and water temperature information (as available) from all hydrometric data stations in the watershed
    • snow depth, water equivalent, and air temperatures from all 4 snow pillow stations in the Shuswap mountains
    • COVID-19 case counts for Canada, BC, Alberta, as well as BCCDC records for all BC health service areas
    • avalanche danger ratings for the Shuswap
    • active wildfires within the Shuswap watershed
    • public weather warnings, flood warnings, local fire bans, road conditions, environmental events and warnings, and more

In total, we obtain, review, correct, analyze, and summarize close to 10,000 individual data records each day, generating charts and graphs, and update our databases. This requires a 3-4 hours effort each day in preparation for our daily web site updates. Furthermore, during the spring runoff we extensively travel throughout the 15.500 km2 of the Shuswap watershed to visit rivers and lakes, to check for and document localized flooding and flood risks, and more. Each spring and summer we take thousands of pictures and video clips and link them to the associated water levels and water flow information. This gives us the ability to visually evaluate local flood risks, to estimate the extend of ongoing flooding, and to provide precise localized flood warnings based on the latest given lake and stream levels anywhere within the Shuswap watershed. We hope to have enough information available by 2022 to publish a database driven, searchable version of most lakes and streams on this web site.

Daily web site updates for the Shuswap watershed:
  • Lake levels
  • Water Temperatures
  • Local and mountain temperatures
  • River levels and water flow information
  • Mountain Snowpack
  • Avalanche Dangers
  • Wildfires and campfire restrictions
  • Flooding, flood forecasting, flood pictures
  • Weather warnings
  • Road conditions
  • Algae blooms and other environmental events
  • Boating and sledding formation
  • COVID situation
  • and more...

In order to limit the bandwidth load and costs, most pictures have been uploaded to our Facebook page only. However, if we can secure a sufficient and stable advertising revenue stream, SLW will upgrade the web hosting service and bring back all pictures and slideshows without slowing down our main content pages in the process.

Funding

Despite being entirely privately owned, SLW operates under the principles of a non-profit web service. For over 25 years all expenses associated with SLW have been covered out of the founder's private pockets. It hasn't been easy at times and, while limited advertising and donations sure have helped, the steady increase in web site traffic also demanded more capable equipment and faster Internet lines at exponentially higher cost. Therefore, this year's focus has to shift towards ensuring sustainability. In order to achieve this goal we will have to attract more advertising on the web site as well as implement other streams of revenue generating content. We are currently evaluating various options in this regard and some will certainly be added to our web content.

What's next

It's going to be another busy year. Lots of tasks have accumulated on our to-do lists and, while we might not get it all done this year, significant content upgrades and changes are in the making. Our primary focus will be on finishing the web site upgrade in time for this year's runoff as well as attracting more advertisers and supporters.

Coming very soon is a SLW membership program. All our advertisers, supporters, and contributors will be automatically enrolled and will have access to additional member-only information and content; including video clips and drone footage, access to all SLW lake and mountain cameras, push notifications for flood warnings and other notable events, periodic newsletters, and much more. We also consider opening up our SLW cloud service for members only.

Throughout this year we will be visiting all our local advertisers to create video clips introducing all the products and services they provide. Those clips will be accessible through our SLW YouTube channel which also will host a lot more video content, like drone footage etc, in the future to come. Since the implementation of the drone regulations we haven't used our drones anymore. However, that will change as we are going to obtain the proper licensing this spring. Furthermore, we are currently looking into establishing a Shuswap News channel on YouTube to summarize weekly local news events and happenings in video studio setting.

A local classifieds and online shopping section will also be added to the web site this year. SLW is also making a renewed effort to place a series of live cameras on Shuswap Lake, some rivers and flood zones, and mountain cabins. However, given the high cost factor this will likely be a rather slowly developing process.

As always, feel free to send us your comments and suggestions. And, if you like the information and content we provide, please consider your support by advertising on our web site, becoming a sponsor, or just making a small donation. Secure online payment options are available here.

Thank you,

Bernhard Kramer
www.shuswaplakewatch.com
Sicamous, BC
Phone / Text: (250) 803-2228
E-mail: webmaster@shuswaplakewatch.com





webmaster@shuswaplakewatch.com   Phone: (250) 803-2228 Copyright ©2022 www.shuswaplakewatch.com, Sicamous, BC - Canada